Dec 30, 2018 News
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), in a statement made during its annual end-of-year press conference, said that GUYSUCO’s sugar workers are worse off than they were, since the APNU/AFC administration took office in 2015.
The GAWU provided statistics of production for three estates: Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt, as of December 22.
The Albion estate managed to produce 56,780 tonnes of sugar, while aiming for 56,729 tonnes. The Blairmont estate, with a target of 28,827, produced 29,456 tonnes.
Additionally, the Uitvlugt estate fell just short of its target of 17,446 tonnes, to produce 17,275 tonnes of sugar. Chand noted that the combined sugar production statistics for the functioning estates show that the workers managed to exceed the total target of 103,002 tonnes, producing 103,511 tonnes of sugar.
President of GAWU, Komal Chand, noted that Minister Winston Jordan, the Finance Minister, announced a bonus payment for the sugar workers. However, Chand said that this is still inadequate, since the workers are getting bonuses on rates of pay that weren’t increased since 2014.
Chand said that, in the over four-year period, since GUYSUCO has chosen not to award its employees a pay rise, the workers have had to contend with several new measures.
Chand noted that the Bureau of Statistics has records showing the cost of living increasing in multiple ways since the last increase in 2014, with the cost of food rising by 12.4 per cent, and the cost of medical and personal care rising by 8.5 per cent.
He explained that, from the corporation’s financial statements between 2014 and 2017, “average pay per worker in the sugar industry has declined on average by $284,000”. He said that, taking into account the seasonality of their jobs and the loss of benefits, it is “not hard to conclude that the field and factory workers’ take-home pay have recorded even further declines.
Chand expressed his dismay that the sugar workers are seeing declines in their earnings, as they are constantly seeing others in their communities, receiving pay increases and better incentives including improved working conditions, from other employers.
Many of those sugar workers picketed the National Assembly during the Budget debates, calling for pay increases to be granted to them immediately. Protesting with them were former sugar workers from the closed Wales estate, demonstrating for the severance payments owed to them.
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