The majority of Skeldon Estate sugar workers have received their termination letters from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) over the past two days. The dismissals represent the plan to close.
Many of the workers who were seen collecting their letters at the Skeldon Estate pay office had looks of dismay as the reality sunk in. After a hard day’s work in the field, most headed to the office to see if each was on the list of the retrenched.
Omesh Chand, a 48-year-old who served at the estate as a Cane Harvester for 32 years, said that he never expected that a day would come when the Estates will be closed. “Me feel wheha me deh hay like me na got blood. The estate gun shut down. Wheh we gun go wuk? Wha we go eat? Me get ah sickly pickney, how me go maintain meh child? Me got to look fuh job and it nah get job nowhere .
The lil money wha dem go give yuh, it gun eat out, that’s it. The lil money wha me wuk for, me go see fuh buy a net and a quake and ketch lil fish; that’s it”.
Chand said, his family at home are stressed out but he has to remain strong amidst the struggles he will face ahead in his advanced age.
Another worker, employed with the factory for 25 years could not come to grips with what he was reading. He managed to mutter, “Twenty five years of my life to this wuk and this is me reward.” He walked away, saying nothing more.
One worker said after he received the letter he was in shock, even though a meeting was held informing them that they would be receiving redundancy letters.
“At age fifty, where me go find job? You see dem young people now go get job easy. I wuk at this estate for fifteen years as a tractor operator. Dem gimme the letter and seh GuySuCo done with you,” one worker said.
Chares Wilson, 57, and a father of 10 has been employed at the Skeldon Estate as a Cane Harvester since 1977 said that he feels depressed about the decision (to terminate the services, given that he only had three years remaining on the job.
“Wha we gon do? Life goes like that; l still get ma life”.
Vendors and businesses on the Upper Corentyne were unhappy with the current status quo of the Skeldon Sugar Factory closure. Many are certain that this will have an adverse impact on businesses of every nature in the township of Corriverton and its environs.
Business owners are worried that they will no longer be able to sustain their operations due to an impending decline in disposable income. They are also worried that due to the high rate of unemployment there is now an avenue for increased criminal activity.
Over 1,700 workers have received their letters of dismissal.
The Government had delayed the recommended closures of two estates, amid an ongoing privatisation and divestment process underway by a special unit of the state-owned National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).
The decision by GuySuCo to issue the workers letters that indicated there will be no place for them in the coming weeks, has placed the Coalition Government in an extremely awkward situation, a senior official had told this publication. A number of ministers have expressed disappointment with the letters and have signaled intentions to have Cabinet take a stance on the matter.
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