Sugar workers protest memorial ceremony of Rose Hall Martyrs
Several laid-off sugar workers from the Rose Hall Estate lined the Rose Hall Canje, Public Road in protest today of what they deem hypocritical actions of the Government.
The protest, which was led by People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Regional Councillor, Zamal Husain, was done as Minister of Social Cohesion Dr George Norton held a wreath-laying exercise to commemorate the 105th death anniversary of the 15 sugar workers who were killed while fighting for the rights of their fellow workers at the Rose Hall Estate, in Canje, East Berbice.
Husain stated that it is ironic that the Government is observing an activity to showcase the struggle the martyrs made while there are thousands of sugar workers on the breadline and nothing is being done to assist them.
“We are concerned about the laying of wreaths for those martyrs, sugar workers and we have thousands of sugar workers here suffering. I think the significance of this activity is whereby workers were fighting for their rights and they end up martyrs and now sugars workers in this area are suffering and we are here to show our dissatisfaction to this activity because the Government of the day should ensure that workers’ rights are upheld,” Husain noted.
Husain continued that jobs and subsidies are needed for the workers in the area and called on the Government to act swiftly on a motion that was passed by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC) of Region 6 to grant subsidies for the transportation of children of sugar workers.
“The RDC had passed a motion but it has not been implemented as yet by the Government. We are asking for the subsidy for transportation for the sugar workers’ children be implemented immediately and also electricity and water subsidy should be implemented as well. We want jobs for workers. What of those sugar workers who are laid off?…Only 100 will be employed… We need more jobs; plenty persons are suffering.”
The small but vocal group of protestors held placards that had several messages of dissent for the Government’s action to close the estate.
The Government took a decision to close several sugar estates, placing thousands of workers on the breadline. While some workers were given transfers to other estates, most received redundancy letters late lastyear.
Earlier this year, severance to workers whose benefits were $500,000 or less were paid in full, however, those above were given 50% with a promise for the remainder before the end of the year.
The Government justified the move as one to consolidate the industry with talks of diversification even as they seek to reopen the estates to make them operational, hoping to get better value in their bid to divest the assets.