Apr 20, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – Sugar workers are of the view that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has demonstrated to them and the Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU), ‘scant respect’ over stalled wages talks, leading to the industry being met with more protest action yesterday.
This obtained when workers of the Albion and Blairmont Estates downed tools to take part in the industrial action, to show their dismay regarding the attitude of the GuySuCo top brass as it relates to protracted wage and salary discussions that date back to 2019.
GAWU in a public missive on behalf of the workers yesterday said, “…like their colleagues at Uitvlugt Estate, who protested last Friday, (the striking workers) are calling on the state-owned sugar company to address the long-outstanding dispute in earnest.”
According to GAWU, the estates’ workers are peeved that the sugar corporation has remained mum on the matter and have expressed the belief that the company is not treating the issue with the seriousness required.
GAWU in writing on behalf of its workers observed a report in yesterday’s Kaieteur News, where Minister of Agriculture, Zulifkar Mustapha, shared that Government would seek to work with GuySuCo to “see what could be done.”
As such, GAWU contends this pronouncement offers a glimmer of hope, though it noted that the Minister has pointed out that the discussions are within the realm of the Union and the Corporation.
The Union did seek to point out too, that the utterances of the Minister were vastly different from what they heard from GuySuCo previously.
According to GAWU, “it has raised their (workers’) suspicions about what the sugar company had told them previously and they believe this was not a healthy development.”
Additionally, the Union said it was also concerned about comments made by a GuySuCo source in an article published in the April 17, 2021 Stabroek News.
That publication reported a source saying that the 2019 five percent increase that was given to workers, when calculated, will require some $1.5 billion annually.
GAWU contends however, “…this disclosure is wildly inaccurate and is seemingly the figment of someone’s imagination.”
It was noted that “while we seek not to negotiate in the media, from data GuySuCo shared with the Union, we can say that the quoted figure has been multiplied several times over.”
GAWU nonetheless did express optimism that the Corporation can return to the bargaining table and “return with clean hands.”
The Union expanded, saying “…we believe that serious discussions could see the parties resolving their differences and resulting in a satisfactory agreement.”
GAWU has since used the occasion to reiterate that during previous engagements with GuySuCo, it indicated a willingness to re-examine its position.
It was noted however, that such re-examination, “is predicated on the sugar company demonstrating its sincerity to finding an agreement and narrowing the differences that currently exist.”
GAWU said that workers, in urging the Corporation to return to the negotiating table with a view to have the matters settled, “shared that they are not unmindful of the Corporation’s situation.”
It was noted however, that despite the appearance that GuySuCo was neglectful of their plight, the workers are prepared to listen to, “any reasonable proposal from the sugar company.”
GAWU reminded too that while the company had committed itself to providing a response to the Union by the end of March 2021, April is almost complete and GuySuCo is yet to make its position known.
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