Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union’s Press Release
In very large numbers sugar workers protested this morning (May 11, 2017) against the planned closure of sugar estates by the APNU/AFC Government. Their protest activity started from 07:00hrs and continued for about three (3) hours outside the Factory and Administrative Office of Rose Hall Estate, Canje. The workers’ militancy brought to a standstill the operations of the factory. Their action was also actively supported by many of their spouses, children, friends and other sympathisers who also marched with them along the road from the vicinity of the Rose Hall Estate High Bridge to the Canje Public Road junction, Sheet Anchor.
The workers are justifiably concerned over their future which appears bleak if the Government pursues closure as it says. Regular employment is hard to come by, and closure of the estate will aggravate this problem in the area. It is such concerns that are prompting workers to come together and unitedly call on the APNU/AFC Government to ensure that Rose Hall Estate remain operable.
The APNU/AFC Government closed Wales Estate last year leaving many of that estate’s 1,700 workers now jobless and despairing. At the end of this year, Rose Hall and Enmore/LBI Estates are to be closed, as disclosed in the State Paper presented to the National Assembly on May 08, 2017.
The Berbice protestors this morning were in angry mood as they visualise hardships that await them and the real prospects of destitution of them and their families that are expectedly in store if the Estate is allowed to go to the gallows at the end of this year.
The workers welcomed and appreciated the wide support they have and are receiving from the communities and the residents, many of who are so much dependable on the disposable income of sugar workers. The people understand that their communities, in a matter of months, would be aptly described as ghost villages.
The unconscionable anti-working class action by the Government which failed to conduct a study of the consequences of its rash and haphazard decision will impact seriously the victims – workers, pensioners, housewives, children, vendors and others.
The Rose Hall workers recognise the need and importance to continue their united struggle which they hope to sustain with greater solidarity, in these courageous efforts to defend their jobs, their rights, their families and ensure a secure and dignified future.