The more than 7,000 severed sugar workers across Guyana will soon be benefitting from a $250,000 grant announced by Vice-President Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo on Monday.
But while the announcement was welcomed by the Guyana Agriculture Workers Union (GAWU), the Union believes that the grant should be extended to all sugar workers who are also “equally deserving” of it.
GAWU, in a statement on Tuesday, pointed out that workers who were made jobless following the closure of the Wales, Enmore, Rose Hall, and Skeldon Sugar Factories have been faced with many hardships, as pointed out in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) study on the impact of the estate closure.
The Union highlighted too that the decline of the standard-of-living that sugar workers faced, coupled with successive years of no pay increase, the arbitrary withdrawal of benefits and “a seeming policy to punish the industry” have also taken “a significant toll on the workers.”
“The support by the Government is welcomed and seeks to correct the injustice and indignation the workers and their families confronted following the callous minimisation of the sugar industry,” the Union added.
“The GAWU must point out too that while heartened about the support to the severed workers, we cannot ignore the plight of those sugar workers who were retained, but punished severely by the former Administration.
“We believe they too are equally as deserving, and we urge the Government to consider extending its support to all sugar workers. We believe it will help to alleviate the many burdens the workers had to contend with during the term of the Coalition in office,” the Union stated.
Further, GAWU signalled its intention to engage the government on reported plans for the shuttered estates, to develop a better understanding to convey to workers seeking guidance.