Granger promises land for thousands of sugar workers who lost jobs

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Still reeling from the brunt of criticisms over his government’s decision to shut down four sugar estates in the country, President David Granger has promised to set up a State Land Resettlement Commission if he is voted back into office at the March 2, 2020 polls.

This Commission, he said, will ensure that the approximately 5,000 workers who lost their jobs in 2016, get the lands at those estates to “farm” and “start all over again.”

“We are going to establish a State Land Resettlement Commission so that people who have been put out of work because they had been in the sugar plantations will be given access to lands so that they can start all over again.

“We’re not leaving the sugar workers on their own. We care for workers but we cannot continue to produce sugar at that cost,” the incumbent President said to a huge crowd at the Leonora Synthetic Track, West Coast of Demerara in Region Three during the APNU+AFC’s rally on Friday evening.

The Wales Sugar Estate in Region Three was among the four estates which were shut down by the coalition Government in 2016; workers were given the option of being transferred to the Uitvlugt Estate but many chose not to because of the distance and the cost of transportation.

In defending the Government’s decision to close the Wales Estate, Granger said he actually “protected the sugar industry in West Demerara.”

A section of the crowd at the rally [Photo: APNU+AFC Facebook page]
“We didn’t do this uncaringly. Sugar cannot be sold on the world market at the cost it was being produced at Wales but we did not throw Wales under the bus, we amalgamated Wales and Uitvlugt and many of the people from Wales have gotten jobs at Uitvlugt.”

He emphasized that the State Land Resettlement Commission will target the former sugar workers.

“Sugar workers will be able to go onto those lands and those who want to farm will be able to farm, those who want housing will get land for housing

“This is what a caring Government does. A caring Government looks after its workers.”

In January 2018, Granger had noted that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) established an Alternative Livelihood Programme (ALP), aimed at providing support for displaced employees to access available opportunities to function in other fields.

But nothing has been heard of that programme since.

He had said that GUySuCo embarked on the training of employees to work in new operational fields across the industry in places such as the field workshop and providing services.

The President had said that GuySuCo engaged 500 employees from the West and East Demerara Estates with over 100 of them signalling their willingness to be retrained – in fields such as carpentry, masonry, plumbing, mechanical and electrical works and in small business enterprises.

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