Sugar workers continue protest for full severance

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One day after President David Granger announced that sugar workers will be paid 50% severance at the end of the month and the other 50% within the next six months, hundreds of workers along with representatives from the workers’ union marched the streets of Corriverton demanding their full severance immediately.

On Thursday, January 11, 2018, the workers and their relatives held placards that read “Government and GuySuCo made us jobless and now making us penniless”, “Hanoman mastermind estates closure and sell out” and “win in unity and strength no to suicide” among others.

President of GAWU, Komal Chand

President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand noted that the decision is in breach of the law and questioned the example being set out by the Government.

“The government of Guyana, what kind of example are you setting? You need to respect the law, you cannot give the people half (severance pay) and hold back half. They suppose to get their severance pay at the expiry of the letter and two weeks have already passed so we GAWU will use every forum cause we are prepared to march with you, we are prepared to go to court on this matter, we are not gonna leave any stone unturned cause it’s an injustice” Chand noted.

The workers of Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates received their letter of termination during the month of December which informed them that their last working day will be December 29, 2017.

Chand called on the workers to stick together to ensure they are not neglected by the current administration.

Chand reminded the workers that the severance pay is an entitlement to them and they have a right to be provided with their severance pay.

Sugar workers on Thursday, January 11, 2018

“You have a legal right to your severance pay, you imagine if you hadn’t that what these people would have done to you.”

The Head of State also announced that the Government had earmarked $100 million to provide small loans “for entrepreneurial activities which could open opportunities for employment after leaving the sugar industry.”

However, in a subsequent statement, GAWU said the $100M will only be equivalent to a measly $25,000 per displaced worker. Such sum, the union contend, is hardly sufficient to engage in any serious economic activity.

The Union said it looks forward to meeting with the President and his Administration on the question of the industry’s future and the plans for workers but called on them to walk the villages and engage the workers and their families.

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