The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has encountered a very unfortunate situation at the Rose Hall Estate. About 06:00h on March 18, approximately 735 of our cane harvesters struck, they were demanding an explanation from the estate’s management as to the reason for them not being offered work on Monday, March 14 and Tuesday, March 15, 2016.
The reason for them not being offered work was due to the fact that on Mondays, the Rose Hall factory undergoes statutory maintenance. It is important to note, that sugar production is a rigorous continuous process, therefore, if one shift strikes, it affects the entire production process. Since the beginning of the crop, the President of GAWU has been on record as stating that the Union’s General Council has sanctioned a strike every Tuesday within the industry. Notwithstanding, in an effort to minimise the deterioration of canes burnt and to reduce possible losses resulting from these strikes, the Corporation has been taking relevant precautionary measures. This programme of strike action has been led by GAWU’s Central and Local officers and is continuing to deplete production targets denying workers the opportunity to achieve the weekly production incentive that they would normally earn.
This morning the workers and the GAWU’s Central and Local officers breached the normal Industrial Relations Protocol and Practices by escalating the protest action and taking it into the estate’s compound. A few workers, behaving in an unruly manner, proceeded to enter the Administrative building accompanied by their Union representatives and carried out actions which were inappropriate and of great cause for concern. This breach of the Industrial Relations Protocols and Practices has raised the question of what are the real motives of GAWU, since the higher the productivity of the workforce, the greater the benefits for all stakeholders, including GAWU.
Prior to the strike on Tuesday, March 9, the estate management was in regular contact with GAWU’s Field Secretary and workers’ representatives to develop a clear understanding of the Union’s intentions in order to proceed with better planning. The estate management was informed that there will be no strike, hence; management proceeded to commence the production process, only to experience severe losses when the strike was called.
The Corporation has concluded that the workers at Rose Hall Estate is being severely misled, they have heeded the Union’s call on March 15, 2016 and proceeded on strike; but at the same time, are demanding work to be made available for seven days, illogical as this may be.
The Corporation is once again imploring its employees to think of their families and the communities which are depending on the viability of the industry and to allow good sense to prevail by encouraging GAWU to make smarter decisions on matters relating to their livelihood.
GuySuCo has since written GAWU expressing its disappointment on the conduct of its Officers that led the group of striking workers’ to invade the estate’s compound and administrative offices.
Despite this aggressive action, the estate management has agreed to meet with a Union’s delegation on Friday, March 18, providing there is full resumption.