800 jobs offered at job fair for ex-sugar workers
By Devina Samaroo
The Private Sector Commission’s (PSC) job fair at Patentia on the West Bank of Demerara (WBD) saw scores of persons in attendance, eagerly interacting with representatives from the various companies and agencies in order to get a job.
With more than 800 jobs available from 22 companies, former sugar workers and other residents had high hopes of gaining employment.
For 41-year old Steve Narine, who was employed with the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), his life has been in shambles since the Wales Estate was closed in 2016.
“In and out, in and out yuh getting work. It’s been lil rough because you ain’t getting no regular work. Some days you get a three-day or two-day work from somebody but you ain’t getting no kinda regular work. I glad if I could get a five-day or six-day work so when the year up, I could earn something,” the former sugar worker told News Room.
The struggle to come out of the unemployment bracket is also real for other residents of communities in Region Three.
For 36-year-old Wanita Henry, a single mother, she has been searching for a job for the past five years.
“Not having anything to show your qualification has been a bit hard in getting a job and then when you go certain places, people looking at face because I’ve been to several places, carried in applications, still waiting for a call and I spoke to some of them personally and they said they gonna call you back.
“And even though you ain’t get a call, you gonna pop in on them but then they will say the position no longer available. It’s hard, because you trying and you running places,” the single mother said.
Henry said she gets financial support from her children’s father but she expressed that “one hand can’t clap”.
“You got to pay bills, food, you got find school things. Every day you got to find $600-$700 for assignments for school and it ain’t easy,” she said.
Henry posited that she is a hard worker but lamented that employers are more interested in qualifications even for the lowest positions.
“If you ain’t get qualifications, it’s like you can’t do anything; that is how they look at it. But then everybody got the ability to work, if you ain’t give them a chance, you will never know what they can do,” she stated.
Recent high school graduates were also at the fair trying to get a job. That is the case for 17-year-old Kesia Sandiford who finished high school one year ago.
“I feel helpless, to be honest. It’s like, you need something but you are not able to ask your parents and you would like to get it on your own. And I want to be independent as a young lady,” she stated.
Meanwhile, some of the former sugar workers are concerned that they are yet to receive their severance.
“It’s more than a year and something and me ain’t working nowhere so I glad fuh ask the President what he doing with we severance. We is the first estate to close off but we ain’t get no money as yet. Berbice come second and they get they money. I don’t know what is the cause for the President crueling Region Three suh,” former sugar worker, Terrence Buelow lamented.
Additionally, some of the former workers are concerned that there are no vacancies suited for their skill type.
But the Human Resources Representative at logging firm Vaitarna Holding, Shoba Goorudat said at her company, there are a number of opportunities available but the workers just need to be open to change.
In addition to private sector companies, the Guyana Police Force and the Ministry of Social Protection participated in the job fair. Chairman of the PSC, Eddie Boyer said the event will be implemented in other communities that have been affected by the estate closures.