The meeting between the Guyana Sugar Corporation, (GuySuCo) and delegations from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) has ended once again with the Unions calling for “earnest Collective Bargaining.”
GAWU and NAACIE in a statement this afternoon (March 24) said they had high expectations that the meeting, which was held on March 22 would have set the stage for the process of Collective Bargaining to commence.
The meeting was called to address the claims submitted by the Unions to GuySuCo concerning improvements in pay and other work conditions for the year 2015 for those workers represented by the Unions and follows a letter dated March 14, 2016 from the GAWU to GuySuCo which reiterated the need to begin the long overdue negotiations.
“GAWU drew the Corporation’s attention to and emphasized that Collective Bargaining entails a process which involves negotiations. It also drew attention that its proposals, apart from pay rise, sought improvement in some fringe benefits.”
Following a two hour meeting, GuySuCo after clarifications from members of the delegations, said “at this point in time it could not afford to offer an increase for 2015”. Later, it clarified that at no point in time was a wage rise for last year (2015) possible.
It is claimed that GuySuCo then announced, after a telephone conversation with a Senior Personnel from its (GuySuCo’s) Head Office, that it agreed to engage the Unions in discussions on the fringe matters.
GAWU, however, maintained that wage improvement is a fundamental matter and discussions on that question cannot be “high-handedly dismissed.”
The Union urged that GuySuCo respect the bargaining process as that will afford both parties the opportunity to provide justifications and arguments supportive of their proposals.
GuySuCo has agreed to respond to GAWU on Tuesday March 29, on whether it will enter into Collective Bargaining including wage and salary claims.
“GAWU remains firm in its stand that GuySuCo must not fail to engage the Union in earnest Collective Bargaining. This is a right fought for and won and it is dear to Trade Unionism. GAWU reminded GuySuCo at the meeting that if it still failed to engage the Unions in Collective Bargaining it would be contravening the Collective Labour Agreement, the Trade Union Recognition Act, the Constitution of Guyana and ILO Convention 98,” the statement noted.
GAWU maintains that workers in the sugar industry will not consider any rollback of their hard-won gains and benefits.