LBI sugar workers strike over dismissal of 15 cane harvesters

LBI sugar workers strike over dismissal of 15 cane harvesters

The Guyana Sugar Corporation is faced with more industrial action but this time at the La Bonne Intention (LBI) estate on the East Coast of Demerara.

Over 380 workers at the estate downed tools on Tuesday morning to  protest the dismissal of 15 cane harvesters who according to Guysuco were dismissed over the past three days “for inadequate application of fertilizer, intended for 10 weeks-old cane plants, at Felicity Fields 49, 49A, 52 and 53, a section of the LBI cultivation, on 24th and 25th July 2014.”

A statement from the sugar company stated that before the dismissal of the 15 workers, three junior staff members and one senior were earlier dismissed on 26th September 2014 and 19th September 2014, respectively, for allowing the workers to have fertilizer inadequately applied to the cane plants.

“These 15 workers have adequate experience in the application of fertilizer, since it is routine for them to be assigned to this task during the out-of-crop periods”, the statement noted.

The Guysuco statement said that it was during inspection that management discovered that many cane plants were devoid of fertilizer, and as a consequence a thorough examination was done “only to expose that there were massive skipping in the application of the fertilizer.”

“Subsequently, the Corporation’s agriculture audit team was deployed to make an assessment of the extent of fertilizer not being applied to the cane plants. It was revealed that there were massive skipping, and further the supervisory staff made full payment to the 15 workers for the poor quality of work done. 226 CWT of fertilizer was intended to be applied on the fields that comprised 20.3 Ha, of which it’s estimated that almost half of the amount was applied. The rest could not be accounted for.”

Guysuco said it spends close to $2Billion annually to import fertilizer and finds it “totally unacceptable” that fertilizer that is intended to nurture the cane plants could not be applied to them in the stipulated amount.

“This development could be the contributing factor for the East Demerara Estate experiencing low cane yields and stunted cane growth”, the company said.

The sugar corporation is calling on the striking workers to resume their jobs immediately or face disciplinary action.

According to the state owned sugar company, it will continue to exercise a “zero tolerance for this type of work behaviour”.

The company said it “wishes to advise those workers who are on strike to have an immediate end to their protest action and allow either the process of the grievance and/or disciplinary procedures to have their course.”

 With the first crop for this year expected next week, Guysuco is concerned that the strike action which began on Tuesday morning could jeopardize the start of the crop. The company has been faced with several strike action over the past two years at the various estates.

Just recently, the unions representing workers at the sugar company called for an independent inquiry into the operations of Guysuco because of mismanagement and the company failing to meet many of its production targets.


Filed: 10th February, 2015

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