– calls for arbitration
The state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has refused recommendations for an employee, accused of
slapping the manager of Skeldon Estate, to be reinstated. Yesterday, the corporation said it preferred to head to arbitration on the matter.
Chief Labour Officer (CLO), Charles Ogle, had recommended that the worker, Daniel Stevens, who was summarily dismissed on September 20, 2014 for physically assaulting the Estate Manager of Skeldon Estate, be reinstated.
The CLO’s recommendation was made in his capacity as conciliator after two meetings with the Corporation and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union. The last meeting was held on October 1.
According to GuySuCo, its rejection of the CLO’s recommendation was based on the availability of statements by workers who gave evidence that the Estate Manager, Dave Kumar, was neither under the influence of alcohol nor was aggressive towards Stevens, and that on the contrary, it was Stevens who was aggressive towards the Manager, which resulted in him physically assaulting the Manager.
The alleged altercation between the manager and staffer had sparked several days of protest last month at Skeldon, leading to power outages across the coastlands after the generating sets at the Corentyne, Berbice factory could not function.
“Prior to the commencement of the conciliatory proceedings, the Corporation and the Union signed a Terms of Resumption on September 24, 2014, that included, among other terms, a resolution of the matter either at conciliation or arbitration. The Corporation having now rejected the CLO’s recommendation, has requested the Ministry of Labour to move the matter forward to the next stage of the procedure, which is arbitration,” GuySuCo said in its statement yesterday.
According to the sugar company, the Estate Manager in his usual night visits to the factory and mill dock met a group of workers that included Stevens who were “malingering” in the vicinity of the mill dock and cautioned them to report to their respective work stations.
“On being cautioned by the Manager, Stevens became abusive and was calmly advised by the Manager to heed his advice and report to his work station. Stevens subsequently retaliated and approached the Manager in a hostile manner, and in the process struck the Manager in his face.” GuySuCo said that the incident was witnessed by several staffers, all of whom have testified in written statements that the Estate Manager was neither intoxicated nor aggressive and abusive to Stevens.
“The Corporation wishes to point out that there were several incidents in the past at several estates whereby employees who have alleged to have physically assaulted their co-workers or superiors have been summarily dismissed without hearing proceedings. The most recent being at Blairmont Estate where a cane harvester had physically assaulted a field foreman, and had his services summarily terminated; without a hearing. This decision was communicated to the Union’s General Secretary, who concurred with the decision.”
Yesterday, GuySuCo was invited by the Ministry of Labour to a continuation of the conciliatory meeting to be held next Monday.
“The Corporation looks forward to the Ministry’s deliberation on this matter in charting the way for an early resolution at the next stage.” It is estimated that several thousand US dollars worth of cane had been burnt, during the strike action last month.
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