The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) wants the Guyana Sugar Company to pay up those severance packages to workers who were displaced by the decision to close the Wales estate.
The union said it was puzzled by recent reports which stated that some 650 workers from the recently closed Wales Estate would be taking up employment at Uitvlugt Estate.
According to GAWU, “the sugar corporation’s statement, as reported, appears to be definitive but is certainly not reflective of the discussions and conclusions reached at the GAWU-GuySuCo engagement on February 01, 2017.”
The Union pointed out that at the last meeting, the Corporation informed the Union’s delegation, comprising of Union officials and shop stewards, that it was seeking to have some 420 workers – cane cutters and the workers engaged in transporting the canes from the fields to the factory – taking up work at Uitvlugt Estate to augment that Estate’s labour pool.
The shop stewards advised the Corporation’s representatives at the meeting that they and their fellow workers were seeking to have, in keeping with the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act, their redundancy pay arising from the discontinuation of cane growing and sugar processing at Wales Estate.
“GAWU emphasized and entreated the Corporation to discharge its legal obligation to the workers and provide their redundancy payments and, thereafter, may encourage them to take up work at Uitvlugt and to which the Union is supportive. The parties concluded the meeting by agreeing to jointly engage every one of the approximate 420 workers on the Corporation’s proposal. Such exercise would be conducted on February 08 and 09, 2017.”
Although the workers are still to be paid their severance, the cane cutters were instructed to report for work at Uitvlugt Estate from this morning (February 06, 2017). Many of them became angry and staged a protest outside the Wales Administrative Office.
They believe that GuySuCo is maneuvering to deny them their redundancy payment for the years of service they rendered to Wales Estate.
GAWU said it intends to seek clarification from GuySuCo regarding the Wales management’s advice to the workers as it is not an accurate representation of the meeting between the Union and the Corporation.
As sugar production in Guyana continues to hit a rough patch, Guysuco has been looking at cost cutting and other measures. The company has been spending billions of dollars every year in an effort to keep the industry afloat.