Opposition, Unions confirm attendance to Meeting with Gov’t on Sugar industry

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The major unions representing sugar workers are hoping that they will not be met with a “done-deal” when they attend a meeting with Cabinet Ministers and members of the Opposition tomorrow (Saturday, December 31, 2016).

During a Press Conference on Friday (December 30, 2016), President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand noted that “we are going tomorrow hoping to hear about proposals and we will be (disappointed) to hear there is a done deal”.

Also at the Press Conference was General Secretary of the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), Kenneth Joseph who also confirmed his body’s attendance.

It was disclosed on Thursday (December 28, 2016) by Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder that an invitation was dispatched to the Peoples’ Progressive Party, NAACIE, GAWU and the Guyana Labour Union (GLU) which represents the workers at the sugar terminal to discuss the future of the industry. The Ministers to be a part of the meeting are Ministers Volda Lawrence, Joseph Harmon, Raphael Trotman, Noel Holder and Khemraj Ramjattan.

Holder said “cabinet would like to get the opposition onboard in final decision making with regards to the way forward. Now we have proposals, and we hope to discuss this with the opposition on Saturday…and have it fleshed out, our thoughts, get a feedback from them.” He also disclosed that among issues to be discussed is the diversification of the Wales Estate and the way forward of the Skeldon Sugar factory.

During Friday’s Press Conference, the Unions expressed hope that the meeting will not be used for “merely public consumption that there has been consultation.”

GAWU’s President said ““we hope to hear their ideas and that there will be proposals that they will give…and us time to (contemplate) and go back to them.”

Additionally, in a statement on Friday, the PPP confirmed that it has received an invitation from the Ministry of the Presidency to attend a stakeholders’ meeting. It noted that the invitation was received on December 29, 2016.

However, the party said it “further requested any documentation on the future of the sugar industry in general but more especially on the closure of Wales Estate to study in advance of its participation at the stakeholders meeting.”

The PPP said it is currently awaiting a response to its request and its queries in preparation for the stakeholders meeting in order to facilitate its meaningful participation. Further, the Party has requested that it be advised whether the said meeting will be merely to inform participants about the closure of the Estate.

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