Blairmont sugar workers strike over transportation woes, working conditions
Workers attached to the Blairmont Estate, West Coast of Berbice are on strike, claiming they are forced to work under unfair conditions.
The group of workers, most of whom were previously attached to the now-defunct Rose Hall Estate, told the News Room they were forced into working at the Blairmont estate otherwise, they would have also been retrenched.
“When the estate closed down, them tell we gat three days to turn up or we get terminate from the job and we lose all benefits.
“So we had to come but now things change and we now want we severance and we gun try mek we ites,” claimed one worker, from Lighttown on the East Bank of Berbice.
The workers are claiming that the first crop was excellent and the conditions were good, however, into the second crop they noticed several changes.
Among the issues is the availability of lorries to take them home whenever they are done working, especially on Sundays.
The cane harvesters are contending that everyone works at different speed and it is unfair for most of them to be waiting for several hours until a few that work slower are done.
“We could be at home earning an extra dollar or spending time with our family but we got to wait for hours until them done then go home on the same lorry,” another harvester, who hails from Lochaber, said.
When News Room spoke to the workers a little after noon, they were told the truck won’t be coming for them until after 16:00 hrs. as per normal.
This has angered the workers who claim that it is unfair for them to wait over 12 hours despite not working, while others who were on strike were already taken home.
However, what has made the workers angrier is the fact that they decided to strike, hoping to get an audience with management, but the managers did not turn up to speak with them.
Apart from the transportation woes, the workers are also claiming that the current crop of canes has a lot of thrash, which requires more energy to clear, and increases the likelihood of them being cut while doing same.
Further, they said the weight of the cane, which they claim is considerably lighter, puts them at an average earning of under $1000 daily.
“Yesterday, we work about $500 dollar; how that can pay when we leaving home since 4 o’ clock in the morning.”
The workers said they spoke with a senior official Wednesday and he declared that he could do nothing about the weight until it reaches the factory.
The workers were not satisfied and decided to strike after a request to have an audience with management was denied.
They are planning to meet with their union if they cannot get a meeting and come to an amicable solution with management.
The group is claiming that there were initially over 113 persons from the Rose Hall estate who were offered jobs at Blairmont, but only 76 are left as the others quit because of the distance and working conditions.