An estimated 3,500 sugar workers engaged in the fields and factories of Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt Estates have petitioned the President for an increase in pay.
According to the workers’ union GAWU, the petition was submitted on October 2.
GAWU said that the workers have been working for the same rates-of-pay since 2015 though the cost-of-living has risen significantly in the ensuing period.
The workers, GAWU stated, have claimed that their pay has also declined owing to a number of factors such as lessened crop weeks, restriction of certain benefits, the suspension of other long-standing conditions-of-work, among other things.
The workers, through their petition, have said the government, as the owner of the industry, has a responsibility to ensure that they benefit from adequate compensation to maintain their standard of living and avoid impoverishment.
In a release, GAWU pointed to the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights at Article 23(3), which says that “Everyone who works has the right to favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplement, if necessary, by other means of social protection”.
In addition, GAWU said the declaration at Article 25(1) says “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care, and necessary social services …”.
“Our country as a full-fledged member of the UN should take note of what the declaration says recognising that it is considered one of the main documents of the organization,” the Union stated.
According to GAWU, the workers have told the President that they are an important tenet in the long-term sustainability of the sugar industry and that he should use his office to have the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) approve an appropriate rise in pay at their upcoming negotiations with the GAWU.
“At this time, the workers are eagerly looking forward to hearing from the President regarding their petition.
“They shared that it has been a trying period for them and their families and an improvement in pay will really go a long way in easing the burdens and difficulties they face,” GAWU stated.
The Union said it was hopeful that the President will consider the workers cries knowing that they are supportive voices in the industry who have advocated that the workers be awarded an improvement in their pay.