Longstanding President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand, has rejected the government’s move to offer retrenched sugar workers 50% of their severance package this month and the other 50% by mid-2018.
Chand, who is also an Opposition Parliamentarian, said the government ought to make the full payment available to workers now, lest they will be committing an illegality.
The government announced on Wednesday that $2 Billion has been set aside to commence payment of severance packages to sugar workers, who were recently laid off.
The monies that are being made available is being seen as support being offered to the cash-strapped GuySuCo which cannot afford to pay workers their severance at this time.
In a statement, President David Granger explained that the government has embarked on an extensive review of expenditure in every sector to the extent of reducing ministerial budgets in order to find funds to enable sugar workers to receive their severance pay.
In the meantime, $100 million has been made available to provide small loans for entrepreneurial activities.
But Chand is not satisfied by these moves and insists that the full payment should be paid to workers whose notice took effect on December 29th, 2017.
He insisted that it was illegal to withhold severance pay and said the 50/50 proposal was unfair.
“Workers are unable to earn at this time and they are depending on the severance pay to pay loans and met other financial obligations,” he said.
The GAWU President said the government’s proposal will put sugar workers at a further disadvantage and continues to press the government to release funds and pay the complete bill now.
He is not buying the excuse that the money is not available and reasoned that when GuySuCo moved to closure it needed to consider the implications and requirements.
In his statement on the issue, President Granger reminded that Guysuco has been in a state of crisis for over 25 years.
He assured that the coalition government intends to act resolutely and responsibly to protect the livelihood of workers, while at the same time preventing further financial depletion of the country’s treasury