Sugar workers have begun to benefit from increased rates-of-pay arising from an agreement between the Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), the Union reported Friday.
Through the agreement reached, piece-rated workers are benefiting from a 5 per cent rise in pay; time-rated workers will receive an increase of $20 per hour, and monthly-paid staffers will receive an increase of $4,100 per month.
Apart from those improvements, certain increases have been approved with respect to a number of allowances enjoyed by workers, GAWU stated.
The GAWU at an engagement with the Corporation on April 03, 2020 said it proposed the implementation of the new rates retroactive to January 01, 2020 while the parties continue discussions regarding retroactive payments for 2019.
“We reiterated our proposal in our correspondences to the Corporation of April 08 and 27, 2020,” GAWU stated.
The Union, in a statement, reemphasised its strong conviction that the period of retroactivity ought to commence from January 01, 2019.
“Our position, in this regard, takes into account that the discussions between the GAWU and the GuySuCo flowed from our 2019 claims.
“Moreover, as we have pointed out previously, other improvements that were approved by GuySuCo during the discussions of our claims were implemented with effect from January 01, 2019.
“It, therefore, follows the obvious logic that every single improvement ought to begin from that point as well. Additionally, the Union and the Corporation have yet to commence any discussion for 2020 and, therefore, we see the GuySuCo position as being misplaced,” GAWU stated.
The Union said that while it remains ready to recommence our discussions on the lone outstanding issue of retroactivity, it recognised that the workers who have been badly battered by a wage freeze since 2015.
“In the intervening period, the cost-of-living rose significantly which deleteriously affected their standard-of-living.
“Of course, we could not ignore too the hike in the even more acute hike in cost-of-living that has permeated since the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in Guyana.
“It was against that background we proposed to GuySuCo this interim arrangement,” GAWU stated.
Though heartened by this development, the GuySuCo has informed the Union that, at this time, it is unable to speak to the now outstanding retroactive payments.
On this score, it did come to our hand that the Corporation financial position has been restricted arising from the refusal of NICIL-SPU to release bond proceeds to the industry to assist mainly in capital works, GAWU stated.
The Union said stance by NICIL-SPU has served to significantly hamstring the industry which is seeking to advance certain works in the fields cane productivity and production.
“This charade has been ongoing now for years and seemingly there is no end in sight. At the same time, we have seen too the obvious ignorance of the issues by the powers-that-be.
“We are hopeful that the Corporation would soon be able to provide the outstanding payments to its workers, who obviously are in need of the monies.
“We look too that the State, as it has done for its other employees, to exempt these payment from income taxes especially at this time when workers need every dollar,’ GAWU stated.