…as GuySuCo, GAWU reach compromise
Striking sugar workers will resume duty at the Wales Estate.
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and the Guyana Agricultural & General Workers’ Union (GAWU) at a meeting yesterday, reached a compromise which will see workers being paid $383 per obstacle per bed (i.e. clearing of obstacles such as weeds, vines and bushes) for the harvesting.
The workers took strike action on August 20th last, after GuySuCo refused to raise their day’s pay after they claimed that the working conditions were unsatisfactory.
Representing GuySuCo at the meeting held at the LBI Sports Complex was Head of Industrial Relations, Francis Carryl, while GAWU President, Komal Chand headed the union team, which included representatives from the Wales Estate.
GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Errol Hanoman, told Kaieteur News yesterday that the $383 agreement is not a ‘blanket’ or ‘benchmark’ rate, as this amount of money will only be paid for the 408 beds that were burnt routinely, and which were supposed to be harvested.
According to the CEO, all the fields will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, while the factory is expected to commence grinding on Saturday.
Hanoman explained that the suspected arson of 13 hectares of sugar cane at the Wales Estate was not included in the payment agreement, but GAWU President Komal Chand told this publication that after the disputed area is dealt with by the workers, then they would assist in the harvesting of the cane that was burnt by suspected arsonists.
In this regard, Hanoman added that the burnt sugar cane, which is equivalent to between 60 to 65 tonnes of sugar, could cost the Corporation approximately $5.5 million in losses. He is optimistic that when it is harvested, some amount of sugar will be recovered, thereby reducing the projected losses.
Meanwhile, Chand told Kaieteur News that the workers would resume work today, since they have agreed to the $383 offered by GuySuCo.
Chand explained that the cultivation process at the Wales Estate is in a ‘serious state’ and if it is not dealt with immediately, then workers may want to strike again.
Workers at Wales Estate went on a seven-day strike, which had resulted in a drastic decision by the management of GuySuCo to cease operations there until it can get the cane cutters back in the fields.
The workers had claimed unfair working conditions, namely, the fact that they could not harvest the cane effectively, since the fields had not been cleared of vines, grass and bushes. As a result, they could not produce enough for a proper day’s wage, given that they get paid for the amount of cane they cut.
The Corporation had offered the workers $130 extra on a day’s pay for the troubles they were facing in harvesting the cane. However, the workers demanded more – a total of $660. The Corporation then suggested $360, and the Union counter-demanded $400. However, GuySuCo was reluctant to raise its offer by $40.
ENMORE WORKERS RETURN
Meanwhile, workers at the Enmore Estate returned to work yesterday after reaching an agreement with their supervisor over labour costs. According to Chand, the Enmore harvesting gang did not reach an agreement with their foreman on Wednesday, and the next in position up for discussion was their supervisor, who was not at the factory at the said time.
However, Chand noted that the workers met with the supervisor yesterday morning and an agreement was reached, where the workers have now decided to resume duty.
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), which manages operations across the country’s eight sugar estates, last year recorded a $4 billion loss and started this year owing its creditors $3 billion.
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