…“GuySuCo did not shift their position” – Komal Chand
By Shemuel Fanfair
After months of deliberation, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has finally informed the Guyana
GAWU President Komal Chand
Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) that workers would receive their Annual Production Incentive (API) for 2015 on April 1.
This was on Monday revealed by GAWU President Komal Chand, who in an interview with Guyana Times said that GuySuCo informed the Union in writing that workers would be given 2.72 days pay for the 85,000 tonnes of sugar produced.
“They [GuySuCo] informed the Union in writing last week that sugar workers will be paid the 1st April…85,000 tonnes of sugar will give you a quantity of 2.72 days pay,” Chand posited.
He also noted that workers were first promised the API payments in December, after which it was said that the payments would be awarded in March.
The Union President explained that the dispute stemmed from the fact that the Sugar Corporation was unwilling to compromise.
“The Union wanted more than what GuySuCo was going to pay so there’s a dispute; that dispute went to the Ministry of Labour [where] the Corporation remained adamant in its position,” stated Chand.
“Now that the Chief Labour Officer declared the matter deadlocked, having done so, GuySuCo is now going to pay the 2.72 days pay which is what they were going to pay all the time; they did not shift their position.”
The GAWU President also observed that the Sugar Corporation was yet to give word on possible 2015 wage increases for workers. With regard to the closure of Wales Estate, Chand explained that GuySuCo has not updated the union on discussions with workers over their decisions to either take a transfer to Uitvlugt or to take a severance package.
“We haven’t heard anything from GuySuCo on a full list of workers who they’re going to transfer to Uitvlugt or who they hope to make redundant and pay them their severance pay. GuySuCo is required by law to inform the Union about the transfer and redundancy of workers and they haven’t done that yet,” explained Chand.
GuySuCo and GAWU have been at loggerheads since November of last year over the API for sugar workers for 2015. The non-payment of API in addition to the non-increase of 2015 wages and the proposed closure of Wales Estate led workers to engage in once-per-week strike action to compel GuySuCo to give in to their demands.
GuySuCo had opined that if these strikes continue, the Corporation would have no other choice than to halt the current crop. It has been reported that workers viewed this disclosure as a “mere threat”.
With the imminent payout of the API, the GAWU President explained that the Union would have to “wait and see” if the workers would continue the organised strikes. This publication has, however, learnt that the planned strike action across estates will move ahead today.