Sugar workers in Berbice who are demanding a meeting with the Manager of the Rose Hall Sugar Estate on Thursday marched into his office and continued their demands to meet with him.
Workers protesting outside the Rose Hall Estate on Thursday
The workers are demanding that Estate Manager Ude Persaud explain to them why he provided no work for them on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, since there was cane in the fields to be cut.
Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) Berbice Regional Supervisor Harvey Tambron had reported that after speaking with Persaud, he was told that it was management’s way of punishing the cane harvesters who had joined with their colleagues at the other estates on their weekly one-day Tuesday strike in solidarity with workers at the Wales Sugar Estate which the Government said it would be closing.
On Thursday, more than 400 harvesters stormed into the estate compound and after being told that the Estate Manager was not in office, marched into the building.
The standoff between senior management of the Estate started on Tuesday when harvesters refused to go into the fields and instead demanded to meet with Persaud for an explanation as to why cane was not burnt over the weekend and on Monday, thus not allowing them to work for three days.
There was no cane burnt on Saturday, Sunday or Monday resulting in harvesters not being required to work for three days although there was ripe cane in the field.
According to some workers, although GAWU has called a strike for Tuesdays, not all of the harvesters stay away from the field and as such, cane should be burnt on Mondays for harvesting on Tuesdays.
Meanwhile, the factory returned to grinding on Thursday after closing on Saturday. Tambron said it was a vindictive act by management.
“Yesterday I spoke with the Estate Manager and he said he does not want any stale cane in his factory and he doesn’t want to have the canes in the punts and not being able to grind it. This has nothing to do with having the stale cane or being in the mill dock, this has to do with the earnings of the people, they need to work.”
Persaud had indicated that he was not going to meet with the workers on Thursday. Tambron said the action of the workers came about as a result of the way management has been treating workers in the recent past. “Even in the backdam where you used to get representatives engaging workers in discussion wherever there is a dispute, they are no longer calling on the reps, it’s just take it or leave it, that is the attitude of the management; they are not engaging the workers in anything; if there is a price dispute, they are not going to address the price dispute; they tell the people it’s either you work or you go home.”
The workers have planned to continue to push to have an engagement with Persaud today by all means possible.