Over 500 sugar workers, business owners, housewives, pensioners and vendors from the Skeldon/ Corriverton area on Tuesday closed their businesses and took to the streets to protest the planned closure and sale of the Skeldon
The protest which commenced from the Skeldon Sugar Estate and concluded at Republic Square, saw the massive crowd marching along with placards belting out slogans to have their voices heard.
Vendors from the Skeldon Market who left their stalls to support the protesters highlighted how the planned closure will affect their livelihood.
A vendor and parent of five children stressed that since the announcement of closure her business has not been booming as before. She is fearful that it will get worse and eventually leave her out of a job.
“We does barely get to catch we hand at the end of the day cause business slow, slow and now they wanna close the estate, What you think will happen to me children that I gotta support? Much less them sugar workers. Something else gotta happen cause people punishing.”
Another vendor reiterated, “I am a vendor at that market for over five years now and is mostly them sugar workers does buy, If Granger tek way the estate, wheh them people gonna get money from? What they gonna buy with? Leaf? Cause me can’t see how you want punish we more when we barely making sales”.
Regional Chairman David Armogan lamented that if the Government pushes ahead with its planned decision, Guyana’s economy will spiral downward. “Over 10,000 persons will be jobless by year end. Can you imagine what that will mean for this economy? Businesses will close down like today. Skeldon and the entire Berbice will become a ghost town if they close this
Armogan explained, “The Cogeneration Power Plant can generate over $8 billion just by selling electricity to GPL. But they are not saying this. They only saying that sugar needs to be privatized for it to be saved. They are not thinking about the workers who will be out of jobs. These are the people they need to think of.”
Mayor of Corriverton, Mr. Hemchand Jaichand, made it clear that the sustainability of the Upper Corentyne is highly dependent on the Skeldon Estate. “Sugar workers’ money is what helps to sustain this town. As the Mayor and a resident of this town for years, I know that the Skeldon Estate can be saved without it being privatized.
“We will not allow this estate to be closed and we the people of Corriverton will stand in solidarity with the rest of Guyana to ensure that sugar is kept alive.”
Also present was the President of the Guyana Agriculture Workers Union, Komal Chand, who marched in solidarity with the sugar workers stated that the presence of non-sugar workers at the protest shows that citizens are aware of the negative effects that will befall the country if the estate is to be closed.
“We have wives, pensioners and ordinary people here. They stood with us because they know what will happen to Guyana if government continues with their decision to the close down the sugar estates”, Chand surmised.
GAWU’s President stressed that this decision was made without consultation with the union or the sugar workers who will soon be out of jobs.
“Government did not consult us before they made this decision. They just consulted people who have no knowledge of the sugar industry and they made a decision which will benefit them and not the people. These are the people who kept sugar alive for years and years”.
The coalition administration noting the strain of GuySuCo on Government’s resources announced the closure of several major estates sparking nationwide protests from the more than 10,000 workers attached to GuySuCo.
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