Feb 11, 2016 News
– temporary workers let go
The Ministry of Agriculture yesterday insisted that that no employee from the Wales Estate has been asked to sign any agreement to indicate whether they will opt to receive a severance package or be transferred to the
The assurance would come as workers worry over their future with the closure the Wales factory, on the West Bank of Demerara later this year.
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), the major bargaining body for sugar workers, has been resisting Wales closure saying that fallout would be too hard.
According to the Ministry, meetings were held on February 1 and February 2, last, with the various categories of permanent agriculture employees from the Wales estate. They were given one week to indicate to management, their decisions following discussions with their families as to what they decide given the decision to cease operations at the factory.
“The employees were made aware of the various options that are available to them after the decision was made to move away from sugar production at the Wales Estate. Provisions have to be made and systems put in place so that workers can have a timely and easy transition rather than wait until the closure to decide who is going where and doing what.”
The consultation sessions are being held with the aim of recording the different categories of workers and the options they choose so that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), GAWU and the Department of Labour can be informed of their decisions, the Ministry said.
The sugar workers were informed that similar work for some categories is indeed available at the Uitvlugt Estate and GuySuCo is seeking persons to fill those vacancies.
“However, workers who choose not to fill the existing vacancies in their respective categories at the Uitvlugt Estate are being offered cane harvesting positions at the Wales estate. Some categories of workers would have to remain at the Wales estate until the end of the 2016 crops.
The Ministry disclosed that workers who have attained 55 years of age and have 10 years or more continuous service have the option to take early retirement.
“Workers who do not want to accept any of the mentioned options have the additional option of accepting a severance payment.”
The Ministry said that follow up meetings were also conducted on Monday and Tuesday with the same categories of permanent agriculture staff for them to communicate their decisions to the officials.
“But at no time were workers offered a three-day grace period for a decision to be made, as was reported in an online news.”
The workers were, however, informed that staff who opted for the severance payments cannot seek further employment with the Corporation, the Ministry said.
A record was made of workers who were present at the sessions to ensure that they receive their salary for the day.
The Ministry said that even this was misreported by the online news.
“Based on reports in the media, workers misunderstood the reason for recording their names. They thought that it was for severance payment and that they did not have to return to work. It was made clear to all workers attending the meeting on February 9, last, that they have to continue being present for work until they are advised otherwise.”
According to the Ministry, the Wales estate, in keeping with the announced plans, has ceased employing temporary staff, to the extent that they are not required for productive work.
There have been picket actions, letters to the editors and even political meetings on the Wales closure.
Government said that the decision was made by GuySuCo in the face of almost $2B in losses that the century-old estate is expected to rack up this year.
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