Wage talks between the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) broke down on Tuesday after the unions took their protest action into the meeting.
GuySuCo in a statement said the two sides met at 10:15hrs on Tuesday for GuySuCo to present its production, financial and marketing outlook by the Finance Director Paul Bhim. In addition, it was intended for the Chief Executive Dr Harold Davis Jr. to present the Corporation’s perspectives and plans towards growth and sustaining the industry.
According to the Corporation, while Mr. Bhim was making his presentation, it was observed that the Unions’ delegation began to pin placards bearing slogans on the front of their shirts.
GAWU in a previous statement admitted that its delegation, comprising of 30 workers and union officials, pinned small placards to their clothing highlighting the need for the Corporation to grant a wage/salary increase to sugar workers.
The placards read: Workers key to success –END WAGE FREEZE!; End discrimination –PAY RISE NOW!; GuySuCo wage freeze impoverishing workers; Workers are sugar’s golden goose – Grant pay rise!; 2014 wages with 2019 prices –Can’t work!; 1800+ days of wage freeze –Shameful!; GuySuCo minimum pay = $42,400 per month; Govt minimum pay = $64,200 per month – A downright shame!
GAWU is arguing that sugar workers’ pay has remain unchanged since 2014.
“During the now more than 1,800 days that have gone by, the cost-of-living has risen significantly. Official statistics has confirmed that the cost of food for instance has risen by 17 per cent with several staple food items going up in excess of 20 per cent. At the same time, workers have confronted several other increases through the imposition of taxes and hiking of tariff fees,” the unions argued.
GAWU and NAACIE have pledged to continue its demands for a pay rise for sugar workers.
The Corporation said it requested that the Unions stop its protest noting that “the parties ought to be meeting under a cordial and stable environment and not under duress.”
GuySuCo’s delegation left the room but the union representatives refused to desist noting that they were not disruptive in any manner.
GAWU also admitted in a statement that “the demand by the Corporation to put away [the] slogans…was an inconsiderate and an unreasonable request.”
As such, the meeting was discontinued.
GuySuCo said “the actions of the Unions and their delegations represented a departure from the spirt and established practices of collective bargaining.”