Coronavirus: Albion sugar workers protest unhealthy working environment

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Hundreds of sugar workers on Thursday morning protested what they say is an unhealthy working environment at the Albion Estate that puts them at great risk of contracting the deadly Coronavirus disease.

The workers used wooden posts and other equipment to block off access to the Albion Estate Road and accused management of the Estate of neglecting the health of the workers.

They are calling for one month leave with pay.

“When we go work in the morning we get 50-60 persons in the lorry, very choke up, anybody can get the virus. And as long one worker get the virus the whole estate gon get it. This estate depend on workers and if everybody dead out who gon run it? That gon gah shut down”, one sugar worker, Arjuna Veersammy told the News Room.

The sugar workers during the protest action did not adhere to the guidelines of social distancing [Photo: News Room]
Another worker, Roopnarine Mahadeo said he is very worried about his health and what may happen if he has to continue working under such conditions.

He said it is hard for the sugar workers to practice social distancing when 50-60 of them are huddled inside the estate truck each morning to get to work.

He added that even though the Estate produced ethanol, workers have to pay $400 per litre.

Mahadeo is pleading with the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) to hear the cries of the workers and close the estate for at least a month.

Another worker, who has been employed with the estate for over 20 years, said he prefers to be safe at home with his family but he is worried that he will not have an income.

Sugar workers blocked access to the estate during the protest [Photo: News Room]
As such, he is hoping the request for the paid leave is granted.

At the protest Thursday morning, many of the workers wore a mask, while others wore homemade masks and handkerchiefs to cover their nose and mouths; however, they were clearly not adhering to the guidelines of social distancing.

As of March 31, Guyana recorded 19 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and as of April 1, four persons died from the disease.

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