The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is of the view that the Guyana Sugar Corporation is embracing policies that continue to push sugar workers away from the industry.
The position of the union was advanced by its General Secretary, Seepaul Naraine in a letter to the press on Wednesday.
“It is perplexing that the Corporation, having recruited in recent times several individuals who were associated with the industry in the pre and post nationalization period of 1976, have not recognized this reality and seek to employ corrective measures, but rather they seek to embrace policies that have pushed, and will continue to push, workers away from the sugar company” Narine argued.
One of the realities he referenced, was the uncertainty of the sugar season which could see workers being without employment for months.
In detailing how this is likely to happen, GAWU’s General Secretary explained that the 2017 second crop will see estates operating for not more than sixteen (16) weeks as opposed to thirty-five to thirty-eight weeks which was achieved in the past.
He said that when the first crop, which lasted about ten weeks, is taken into account, it means that workers would only be offered in-crop employment for about half of the year.
And according to him, even in the cropping period, those workers are uncertain about the situation they would face when they arrive to work. To cushion this, he offered that the workers, quite obviously, will seek to secure alternative employment in order to augment their incomes and maintain their families.
“Undoubtedly workers commitment, when taken together with assault on their benefits and threats to their livelihood they now face, will obviously wane” Narine said in his letter.
However, he believes that the situation is not a unique one, as in the 1980’s workers only returned to work after their rates-of-pay and benefits were aligned with reality in the early 1990’s.
The General Secretary stated that it is “perplexing” that the Corporation, having recruited competent and knowledgeable people who were associated with the industry in the past, have not recognized this reality and seek to employ corrective measures.
He said that instead of doing this, the management of GUYSUCO has sought to “embrace policies that have pushed, and will continue to push, workers away from the sugar company,” and it is for this reason, the Corporation’s Community Outreach Programme will continue to be sparsely attended.