GuySuCo says Albion strike illegal; warns workers to be on the job by Saturday
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has told striking workers at the Albion Estate that their strike is illegal, warning them that they should report to work by Saturday.
The workers on strike are those who were transferred from the Rose Hall estate, which was closed last year. The workers have been demanding severance pay over the past two days, GuySuCo stated.
“The Corporation wishes to state that the strike action is illegal and is in breach of the ‘Extant Collective Labour Agreement’ existing between GuySuCo and representative Union, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU),” the Corporation state in a press release.
GAWU, in a statement, said that the strike was also about the working conditions faced by the employees.
The Union took issue with the warning, saying that Corporation “intimated that it would take disciplinary actions against the workers for their participation in protest actions.”
The Union has declared that the workers, as Guyanese, have a right of expression.
“The possibility of disciplinary action could be seen as impinging on that inalienable constitutional right,” GAWU declared, adding that in a letter to GuySuCo it pointed to the need for dialogue and not confrontation as the appropriate method in addressing such matters as a means to bring about an amicable solution.
“Additionally, the job opportunities for employees from Rose Hall Estate at Albion and Blairmont Estates, is a part of the Corporation’s response to the engagements since 2017, between the Corporation and these employees as well as many stakeholders including GAWU, to explore all possibilities to maintain employment for as many employees as possible from the Rose Hall Estate,” GuySuCo stated.
The Corporation said the transfer of the employees from Rose Hall Estate to the Albion Estate was done in accordance with the Labour Law of Guyana under the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA) section 21 (4) (b).
It said prior to the transfers, management of GuySuCo held several discussions with the employees in the presence of their Union (GAWU), informing them of the benefits to be gained from being transferred and remaining in the employ of the Corporation.
GuySuCo said that the Corporation is keen on providing the workers with continued employment, “so that they are able to take care of their families and expenses, as well as enjoy the benefits as employees of GuySuCo.”
However, GuySuCo declared that it is a “commercial business and wishes to inform all those employees on strike that they are expected to report for duty latest by Saturday, April 6, 2019.”