GAWU welcomes 7% pay rise to sugar workers

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(Statement by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union)

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) takes note of the announcement by Vice-President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo in respect to pay rise to sugar workers for this year.

Earlier this year, the Vice-President during an engagement with the workers and the Union undertook to ensure that sugar workers benefitted from a pay rise in 2021.

The announcement today represents a fulfillment of that commitment. For the GAWU, the decision by the Government to provide workers with a seven (7) percent rise in pay equivalent to their counterparts in other sectors of the State marks a reversal of the policy of discrimination that was meted out to them during the Coalition Government.

It is well-known during the life of the David Granger Administration sugar workers were treated like unwanted stepchildren. Their wages were frozen at 2014 levels while their colleagues in other sections of the State’s employ benefitted from annual pay adjustments.

During that period, they suffered immensely as the cost-of-living rose appreciably while their real wages tumbled.  In computations, GAWU pointed out between 2015 and 2019, sugar workers’ real wages declined by some 42%.

For the Union it appeared that the industry was received special focus by the former Government and no attempt was spared to extract maximum punishment on the thousands who depended on its operations for their livelihood.

Apart from the wage freeze, other long-standing benefits were simply suspended without rhyme or reason and sugar workers, and their families suffered disdainfully at the hands of the former powers-that-be.

The entire period spoke to the hardship and travails the workers faced and the challenges they were asked to surmount.

It is without question that the pay rise approved by the Government following consultations with the GAWU will allow sugar workers to reclaim what they lost as the former Government, it appeared, set out to pauperize them and their families.

The Union and the workers now turn their attention to the GuySuCo. Certainly, with the holiday period fast approaching workers, with great anxiety, seek to receive their payments. Undoubtedly, it will make their holidays somewhat brighter and enable workers and their families, in their own way, to be able to afford some of what was denied to them under the Coalition.

The GAWU, at this time, is appreciative of the Government’s genuine efforts to bring about betterment to the sugar workers and the workers of Guyana.

We are sure that the workers are greatly appreciative of the Government’s decision. Indeed, it is yet another promise fulfilled by the Government.

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