September 28, 2016

Sugar workers receiving API payments

Wales EstateSugar workers across the Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice estates received their 2015 Annual Production Incentives (API). This comes after months of deliberations with the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), after which the situation was declared as “deadlocked”.

Guyana Times understands that while payments for the most part went smoothly, there were reports that some workers attached to the factory at Wales were denied their API payments. An official close to the Estate revealed that these workers did not meet qualifications according to the criteria which the Sugar Corporation had set out.

This publication has also learnt that the workers who apparently failed to qualify for API had previously received HWP (Holiday with Pay). It was explained that workers who receive the Holiday with Pay incentive, are also entitled to receive Annual Production Incentive.

Attempts to contact GAWU’s President Komal Chand proved futile. However, this newspaper has gathered that GAWU and estate officials launched an investigation into the alleged non-payments.

GAWU has been in discussions with GuySuCo since November 2015 on API payments. The workers were initially promised API payments in December last year but this was postponed to March 2016, to facilitate discussion between the sugar company and GAWU.

The GAWU has called the payments of 2.72 days pay insignificant. The Union said it vehemently opposes such an “unjust” payment. According to the Union in statement released last week, during the meetings, GuySuCo took an uncompromising stand on its proposal to award a day’s pay as API for every 85,000 tonnes of sugar produced.

Hence, in the deadlock circumstance, GuySuCo will now go ahead with the API payments of 2.72 days pay for the 231,145 tonnes of sugar produced in 2015.

Over the last several months, GAWU has engaged sugar workers in a series of strike actions to advocate for an increase on API payments, an increase on 2015 wages and to stand in solidarity against the proposed closure of the Wales Sugar Estate.

So far, the Sugar Corporation has not budged as the 2015 API payments remained the same and there were no increases to 2015 wages. GuySuCo is yet to officially disclose to the Union its plans for Wales after the estate closes by year end.

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