GAWU wants meeting with political parties on sugar ahead of elections

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The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), which is headed by a PPP Parliamentarian, Komal Chand, is mulling meetings with the major political parties on their plans for the sugar industry ahead of the next General and Regional Elections.

At a press conference at the union’s High Street, Georgetown, Headquarters on Friday, GAWU’s General Secretary, Seepaul Narine, noted that the Union will decide whether it wants to meet with the political parties to hear their plans for the sugar industry.

GAWU then intends to relay these plans to former and current workers of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), who will then decide which party to vote for.

“Those will be important positions for us to make a pronouncement on and no doubt, let our members know that this is the take by a particular party…and this is the take by another one and then they will make their choice,” Narine said.

“For the union, we stay clear, as far as the union is concerned to tell people you must support this party or that party. That is their right and in our union we have supporters of all political parties,” Narine said.

He said GAWU has an interest as a union to protect “our members’ interest and their wellbeing.”

The APNU+AFC Government laid off over 5,000 sugar workers with the closure of the Rose Hall, Enmore, Skeldon and Wales sugar estates in 2016 and 2017.

He added that with the closure of the three sugar estates, too many of its members are left jobless and facing difficulties in their everyday lives and as such the union “cannot fail on that responsibility to guide our members.”

Painting a bland picture, Narine said some sugar workers are unable to send their children to school and even struggle to source food.

“What is before the sugar workers now, is the fact that their lives have been destroyed. What is before them, is the fact that they were promised many things and nothing has been fulfilled except their dreams have been shattered,” Narine said.

As the country heads into election mode after the Government was defeated by a No-Confidence motion on December 21, the Union leaders were asked about political parties using the sugar workers to gain political mileage, but the Union noted that the workers are free to support which party they choose.

The APNU+AFC Government had accused the PPP of politicizing the issues facing sugar workers.

Editor’s note: This story was first published with the headline: “GAWU hints at influencing vote of over 7,000 sugar workers.”

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