PPP willing to pay legal fees for sacked sugar workers
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo Friday said the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is willing to support sacked sugar workers in a legal battle for prompt and full severance pay.
President David Granger announced recently that the estimated 4, 000 sugar workers who have been retrenched by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) will get 50% of their severance pay by the end of the month and the other 50% within six months.
But Jagdeo said that the sugar workers deserve full payment and that they should receive the money now, and any other formula for paying them amounts to an illegality.
“The People’s Progressive Party will pay the legal bills of all the sugar workers who want to challenge this in court,” Jagdeo stated at a press conference on Friday, January 19, 2018.
Jagdeo said that the Government did not have the decency to find alternatives for the sugar workers before they were put on the breadline, but that it treats them with respect and give them the dignity that they don’t have to now come and beg for money that they earned.”
He said the Government has been treating the issue of the severance pay as “somehow dependent on their goodwill.”
He noted that that severance is “obligatory” and not determined by the “benevolence of the Government,” as they are attempting to make it out to be.
Jagdeo said that it was “total incompetence” on the part of the Government not to adequately
budget to pay the sugar workers their severance when they knew how many letters were going to be handed out before the budget was passed last month.
Last week, Minister of State Joseph Harmon said that the “exact figures” began to emerge “in December/January.”
However, sugar workers at the Rose Hall estate in Berbice began receiving their severance letters at the end of November 2017 and those on the other estates began receiving theirs shortly after.
To meet the payout to sugar workers, President Granger said programme budgets of the various ministries will have to be scaled back. The President suggested the severance payout would cost $4 billion.
Sources at the helm of GuySuCo say the management team have estimated that the severance pay of $4 billion currently catered for would be woefully short than what would be required.