$2.451B for sugar workers final severance payments

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The Government is seeking parliamentary approval to utilise $2.451 billion to pay off the severance owed to hundreds of sugar workers who were retrenched late last year.

The supplementary paper, which totals over $7 billion, was tabled by Finance Minister Winston Jordan, however, it will be debated until the National Assembly meets again on October 31, 2018.

Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo has contended that the sums earmarked to pay off the severance ignored the sacked Wales Sugar Workers, who have not received a dime since they were laid off in 2016.

He said the money will only cover the remaining severance owed to the workers from the East Demerara and Berbice Estates, who had received half of their benefits earlier in the year.

In a protest supported by the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), a group of former Wales Sugar Workers stood outside the Public Buildings, demanding that they are included in the figures set aside to pay off the severance.

Explaining the hardships they face since the estate was closed, the retrenched sugar workers and their families contend that it is not fair that they are being excluded from the severance payments.

Though Wales was the first of the sugar estates to shut down, approximately 300 of the former workers are yet to receive their severance.

This is because the matter is being held up in the courts. According to GAWU – the union representing sugar workers – the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) wanted the retrenched cane cutters to take up work at the Uitvlugt Estate which is located more than 20 miles away from Wales.

GAWU took the issue to court, contending that the demand to work at Uitvlugt was contrary to the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act.

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