GuySuCo says adequate COVID-19 measures in place for workers at Uitvlugt Estate

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Though factory workers at the Uitvlugt Estate are protesting the lack of adequate preventive measures against COVID-19, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) says it has put several systems in place to protect its workers.

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) on Thursday said one of the concerns of the workers is the lack of appropriate measures to promote social distancing in the workplace.

However, Communications Manager of GuySuCo, Audreyanna Thomas said the factory workers, who are conducting out of crop maintenance, are not required to work in clusters.

“In the factory we are…practising social distancing,” she told the News Room in a telephone interview Thursday afternoon.

Thomas explained that there are some instances where persons may need to be in the same area to assist each other with a task but “then they return back to practising social distancing but it’s not necessarily that they’re working in close proximity all of the time.”

Communications Manager of GuySuCo, Audreyanna Thomas

The GuySuCo spokeswoman said the company also installed sinks outside of premises in addition to testing the temperature of workers, providing masks, hand soaps and sanitizers for use.

The masks, she said were manufactured by the corporation and conformed to medical standards.

The News Room spoke with GAWU’s Field Secretary Gordon Thomas who alleged that there are 275 employees who work from 07:00h to 16:00h daily. The number he said affects social distancing.

“You can’t put people to work cluster up in such an environment,” Gordon said.

But GuySuCo said there are less than 200 staff in the factory.

The workers are demanding that the Corporation divide its factory employees into two shifts.

The News Room understands that the estate’s managers proposed one shift from 7am to 3pm and the other from 2pm to 10 pm.

But the workers rejected this and suggested that the two shifts must fall between the curfew period –from 6am to 6pm –in order to avoid issues with law enforcement.

Sugar production is listed as an essential service in the COVID-19 guidelines but prior to the completion of the first sugar crop, workers complained of being confronted by the police on their way home after 6pm.

Currently, only the pump attendants, ambulance and fire tender operators, powerhouse operators and security guards work beyond 6pm with GuySuCo.

Following the confrontation with police, GuySuCo said those persons were issued ID cards which can be shown to the police.

The factory workers are planning a third day of protest for Friday. Thursday’s protest was stopped by the police as it goes against the COVID-19 guidelines.

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