Too many workers are losing their jobs because of problems within the economy and the management of government. These workers need to be provided with some form of temporary assistance; they should not be simply dumped on the breadline.
This year Barama sent home its workers because of the signals it was receiving from the government. It was not certain whether the leases would have been renewed, and therefore the company walked before it was forced to do so. A lot of those workers are struggling to meet ends meet. They are not employed.
It is believed that more than 1,000 workers have been affected by the closure of the Wales Estate. Some of them have been offered reemployment at Uitvlugt Estate. But the sugar company knows all too well that it cannot pay workers to have to go to that long distance to cut cane, even if transportation is provided.
They will have to wake up earlier and return home later. This does not give them enough recovery time. Also if they take up that offer, they will not get their severance, and workers want their severance to get out of the industry.
Private companies in distribution and manufacturing are laying off workers. This is not something that private companies like, or are accustomed to doing in Guyana. But the decline in sales has left them no choice.
We are heading to a situation such as what we had in the early 1980’s when almost 30,000 workers were retrenched or redeployed to jobs which they could not do. The jobs losses are adding up. With Skeldon and Rose Hall estates on the chopping block, the numbers will increase, and the ripple effect will multiply the job losses because once the agricultural sector is affected, commerce and everything else is affected in the rural economy.
We are witnessing a situation where one commercial bank has registered a major loss. Loan provisioning was a contributing factor. The latest reports did suggest that the bad loans portfolios for commercial banks were increasing. This is not a good sign. It is evidence of shrinking business activity, as distinct from shrinking growth.
Cevons Waste Management, a sanitation company, which provides garbage collection services for City Hall, is about to send home 45 workers because it is owed millions by City Hall.
The municipality simply does not have the money to pay and is resorting to desperate measures such as imposing heavy charges for the collection of garbage on an overtaxed business sector. Even those sums cannot cover what City Hall owes private garbage collection.
Forty-five workers are going to be laid off from Cevons. Puran Brothers, the other company which is owed money, has not said what action they will take with their workers. But they cannot be expected to pay workers when no money is coming in.
The government has to intervene to help these poor workers. They should.
Years ago, a boiler at Barama had exploded, and this forced a reduction in production which led to the laying off of many workers. The PPPC government, recognizing that a long layoff would result, decided to offer a monthly cash grant plus computer training for those affected. It helped pull the affected workers out of a difficult situation. It mattered not that the workers were from a private company. They would have been out of work for a long time, something that they could not afford, and the PPPC intervened to assist.
If the government offers to pay each of these 45 workers a grant of $25,000 monthly for four months, it will cost them in total, a little more than what they are reportedly paying in rental for a house for one of their ministers.
The government should have a conscience. They should help out these workers until the company is able to rehire them. It is not easy for any worker to not be able to provide for their family when they were doing so all along.
APNU+AFC should show they are better than the PPP. Take the $500,000 per month rent and pay each of Cevons laid-off workers a cash grant for four months.
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