… Skeldon estate fire
The fate of the four workers who were dismissed last month following a fire at the multi-million dollar Skeldon factory is hanging in the balance. They are still waiting on the recommendations of a report following Conciliation.
Following the refusal of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to back off its decision to fire the four staffers, including two seniors, and the suspension of five others, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union had asked for Conciliation.
Last week, Chief Labour Officer, Yog Persaud, had visited the estate, conducting interviews.
A report, according to Chief Executive Officer of GuySuCo, Paul Bhim, yesterday is expected to be handed over as early as tomorrow.
Kaieteur News understands that the Conciliator may in all likelihood recommend that no staff be dismissed, but suspended instead.
However, GuySuCo can still refuse to heed the recommendations and call for Arbitration.
According to the Corporation, on Saturday August 7, a fire in the Skeldon factory resulted in extensive damage to the bagasse conveyor belt.
GuySuCo, in pointing out that the incident occurred on the same day the estate was slated to commence its second crop production for the year, disclosed that based on the extent of the damage, it is clear that the blaze actually started much earlier than the time it was first reported -three hours earlier.
“A full investigation was conducted which revealed that the incident resulted because of gross negligence, caused extensive damage where remedial works will cost millions of dollars, coupled with the loss of three days’ production.”
Following the investigation, GuySuCo said it took disciplinary action against employees, both managerial and non-managerial.
Calling for the workers to return to work with harvesting under full swing, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) had said that gross negligence resulted in the fire not being detected early. It is estimated that millions of dollars will now have to be spent to repair the damage.
Nine employees were disciplined over the fire and there are questions now as to how staffers who were supposed to be on duty did not see the flames until hours later.
In addition to two senior employees being interdicted from duty, GuySuCo said another two junior workers were disciplined – one dismissed and the other suspended. Two non-managerial employees were also suspended, with three of them dismissed. Among the two senior employees was the Shift Manager.
GuySuCo, in a statement, had said the strike action by the factory workers was at a most inopportune time, when there is a very large crop – 480,000 tonnes of cane – to be harvested “which has already been affected by poor weather and a 2nd crop production target of 34,000 tonnes of sugar for the Skeldon factory.”
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