Protest at Nagamootoo’s birthday celebration
Relatives and workers from the various sugar estates in Berbice today gathered at the Auchlyne Primary School to protest the decision to send them home as part of the restructuring plan of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
At the time of the protest, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and other government officials were at the school celebrating his 70th birthday.
The protesters held placards that read: “You have let down the people of Berbice with your empty promises Mr Prime Minister” and “Sugar workers starving while Ministers Partying”.
They chanted: “Prime Minister, shame on you!” as Nagamootoo exited the school compound with his wife on their way to another venue.
Zamal Hussain, attached to the opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP), led the protest. He said the protest was to remind Nagamootoo about the 400 workers who received their severance letters from the Rose Hall Estate.
Hussain charged that instead visiting the Auchlyne Primary School to celebrate his birthday, the Prime Minister should have found the time to engage the sugar workers.
“…the sugar workers are on the breadline as of the 31st December 2017, and we are very disturbed about this because he [Nagamootoo] was here two and a half years ago when he launched his campaign and said sugar is too big to fail…,” Hussain stated.
By 2020, GuySuCo aims to reduce sugar production to just three factories and with 10, 000 workers, which would be 6,000 less workers than it currently has. Most of the Corporation’s revenues have gone to pay wages and salaries.
Minister of State, Joseph Harmon recently said that the closure of the Rose Hall and Enmore Sugar Estates may take effect next year because systems are not yet in place for the post-shutdown period.
However, the management of the estate began informing some workers that their posts will become redundant in the new year and many have already received notice that their employment was being terminated at the end of the year.
The Prime Minister’s birthday celebration was organized by the teachers of the school with a programme comprising of poems, dances and other cultural items.
The Prime Minister told the students that each one of them can be the next President or Prime Minister. Both President David Granger and the Prime Minister attended the school.
“You too can become what this Prime Minister has become and you can do so in a shorter time.
“You too can make Auchlyne primary school proud because it was right here in this school that I started my education,” the Prime Minister recalled.
Following his remarks, the Prime Minister made a presentation of several items including a water dispenser, photocopying and printing machine and several laptops.
Among some of the other issues raised by the protestors was the unilateral appointment of the chairman of the Guyana Elections Commission.
They also called for the Region Six budget to be being reexamined as it is a “disaster.”
Hussain said: “The country’s 2018 budget is also a disaster as we are not seeing anything for business stimulation in this country; the economy is falling and we are not seeing anything for the stimulation of this economy.
“So we are asking the rubber stamp Prime Minister for us to have better representation for the people of Region Six and the country as a whole.”