– call for end to procrastination
Three of Guyana’s major agricultural workers unions are up in arms, alleging that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) is delaying collective bargaining engagement to resolve the current wage/salary dispute hike of 2015.
This was communicated in a joint statement from the unions. The statement also called for “productive sugar workers” of the Corporation not to be used as a ‘football’. It follows on the heels of sugar workers downing tools last week as the wage negotiations made little progress.
Delegations from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) and the Guyana Labour Union (GLU) have met with GUYSUCO but have had their discussions put off.
During GAWU’s meeting with GuySuCo on October 30, they were advised that the “Corporation is awaiting a framework within which the negotiations would take place.” GAWU related that the framework would possibly be coming from the Government through GuySuCo’s Board of Directors.
Meanwhile, a delegation from NAACIE met with GUYSUCO at the Ogle Staff Club, East Coast Demerara (ECD) yesterday. As in the case of GAWU on Friday, NAACIE was also told about the Corporation needed to be guided by a framework, from what they claimed to be an ‘incomplete’ COI Report.
”In the interest of the industry, the workers and the Corporation, the three sugar unions call for the immediate engagement without further procrastination between the Unions, on one hand, and the Sugar Corporation, on the other, with a view to bring a speedy resolution of the wage/salary hike for all sugar workers for year 2015,” the statement continued.
“GAWU has submitted wage and other proposals in the first quarter of this year for GUYSUCO to consider and engage in Collective Bargaining,” the Unions said.
“Although there is a law – the Trade Union Recognition Act (TURA) – through which Section 23 (1) makes it compulsory for bargaining to take place, (GUYSUCO) continues to flout it.”
According to their respective mandate, GAWU represents the masses of workers employed in the field and factories while NAACIE is the representative of the supervisory and clerical staffers.
The GLU meanwhile represents the workers at the Demerara Sugar Terminal. Despite appeals to the Corporation to meet at the bargaining table, the Unions and by extension their members are becoming frustrated with the stance of GuySuCo.
“As a red herring, the Corporation is using the recommendations of the Sugar COI as the stumbling block. It appears that the Government has deemed the report of the COI as incomplete. Minister Noel Holder is reported to have said that the report is in need of ”tightening”. What then will be GuySuCo’s new excuse for not talking and negotiating?” the statement queried.
Meanwhile, GUYSUCO in its response admitted that during the meeting an appeal was made to NAACIE for patience until a basis for the negotiation process was determined.
“The meeting was held in a cordial atmosphere where the Chief Executive Officer Mr. Errol Hanoman informed the Union’s team of the losses suffered as a result of the three days strike called by GAWU,” the Corporation’s release said.
Refuting claims that they breached the TURA Act since the unions have always been recognized; the Corporation indicated that “some estates are still feeling the effects of that strike as a result of the stalling of canes and the breaking of the production momentum that was generated over the past few weeks.”
“The meeting was further advised that as a result of the strike, GuySuCo failed to produce approximately 6,000 tonnes of sugar which would have generated G$450M in cash revenue which is now delayed and a permanent loss of some 450 tonnes sugar valued G$38M as a result of deterioration of the canes.”
The Corporation went on to indicate that there will be negotiations with the Union but asked that they be patient as the road map to secure the future of the industry is being developed.
“He (Hanoman) also cautioned the Union on the loss of goodwill developed over the past weeks prior to the GAWU strike and he explained that the opportunity still exists for their members to earn tax free incentives over the remaining six to seven weeks of the crop.”
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