Out-of-work Uitvlugt Estate workers to get temporary employment

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Mechanical issues at the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) Uitvlugt Easte on the West Coast of Demerara (WCD) have hampered sugar production there but President Dr. Irfaan Ali has announced that the out-of-work cane harvesters will gain temporary employment in the interim.

According to a press release from the Office of the President, the Head of State told the harvesters that the estate would find alternative work for six days per week on a short-term basis for them.

“Having listened to management, I am convinced that there’s enough work for planting, weeding, chemical spraying, cleaning of the side-line to get you at least six days per week now.

“And I’ve instructed that this be implemented immediately,” President Ali reportedly said during a meeting with the workers on Friday.

This estate first experienced mechanical issues at the beginning of March. In a recent interview with the News Room, GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sasenarine Singh said that repairs had been delayed because there was a single fabrication shop that was offering the specific assistance needed.

President Dr. Irfaan Ali (centre) engages some of the out-of-work Uitvlugt cane harvesters (Photo: Office of the President/ April 15, 2022)

Based on reports, however, grinding operations at the estate was expected to resume in mid- March.

The release from the Office of the President however noted that the grinding operations have been affected for several weeks, resulting in setbacks at the estate.

To remedy the mechanical issues, President Ali said that the government has already procured another piece of equipment that should be delivered in July. In the meantime, he also said that the government is working on finding a factory in Miami that has similar facilities.

While these solutions are being pursued, the President assured the workers that the government is keen on ensuring that sugar workers and all workers succeed.

“You have a government who understands your pain; you have a Government who is committed to working with you and helping you.

Some of the Uitvlugt cane harvesters (Photo: Office of the President/ April 15, 2022)

“As we said when we came back, we are here to ensure that the sugar sector succeeds and ensure that we keep employment and not displace employment,” he was quoted as saying.

In addition to providing temporary employment, the President spoke of overall support for the workers. He said that plans are being formulated to register the workers to be part of a livelihood improvement programme to supplement their estate jobs.

One of the options is the establishment of chicken facilities where workers will be able to take part in poultry farming with approximately 150-200 birds.

“We are going to try to get the resources so that you don’t stay without work, you get the six days per week, and at the same time, we are going to work with you to support you with the livelihood option,” he said.

President Ali added that he will consult with the Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh to see what further assistance can be provided.

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