GAWU defies Jagdeo… Union vows to continue sugar talks with Government

GAWU defies Jagdeo… Union vows to continue sugar talks with Government
Jan 30, 2018  – Kaieteur News

Komal Chand – GAWU

The union believes that it should use every arena and leave no stone unturned to further the struggle of the sugar workers.

“Engagement with the government is one such plank. In fact, GAWU is no stranger to engaging Government on workers’ matters. In our years of association with the sugar industry, the GAWU has engaged every Head of State from the late President L.F.S. Burnham,” GAWU stated.  

The union noted that it approaches discussions with the administration in good faith and is hopeful that the workers’ causes will be advanced, especially given the terrible times facing so many ordinary Guyanese in the sugar belt.

“The opposition leader, who was President for over a decade, should know better than most, that issues of this nature and magnitude cannot be resolved in a fully comprehensive way at a single meeting, though one would wish that could happen,” GAWU stated.

On the issue of severance, both GAWU and NAACIE took a non-negotiable position that severance entitlements, in keeping with the provisions of the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA) as well as the practice, ought to be paid at one time and not in staggered payments as was suggested by the Government.

Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) yesterday stated that it will continue to engage the coalition government on issues of employment facing workers in the sugar industry which is reeling from the closure of estates.

Bharrat Jagdeo -PPP

GAWU came in for severe criticism on Saturday from General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) and Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, for meeting a Government delegation led by President David Granger.

The National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) also attended the meeting on January 19 at the Ministry of the Presidency.

“It is dismaying that our union is singled out for this sort of criticism, recognizing that several organisations are engaging the state on matters of concern. Why is a different yardstick being applied to GAWU?” the union questioned.

Jagdeo took GAWU and its leader, Komal Chand, to task, since in his opinion the government won big on the public relations front. Jagdeo stated that nothing was achieved, although a statement on the meeting concluded that common ground was achieved between the union and the government.

“It seems maybe Mr Jagdeo misunderstood the conclusion of the meeting, as both GAWU and NAACIE undertook to work with the government in reaching common ground. We did not advise that common ground was reached,” the union noted.

Chand, who is also a PPP Member of Parliament, clapped back at Jagdeo, telling Kaieteur News that he will stand with the more than 5000 workers affected by the estate closure, over party politics.
GAWU, despite its leadership being aligned to the PPP, seemingly backed Chand.

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  • guyaneseonline  On 01/31/2018 at 11:11 pm

    Jan 27, 2018 Editorial – Kaieteur News

    It seems that something is terribly wrong with the opposition. Their recent behaviour in Parliament suggests that there is more than a little wrong. In the past two years, the government has had more than a dozen Commissions of Inquiry; one of those was to determine the future of the sugar industry, why it collapsed, the efforts to save it and to understand why the PPP did not take corrective measures or at least tried to ease the financial burden on the treasury.
    Since taking office in May 2015, the government has been trying to make GUYSUCO viable. It inherited a bankrupt sugar industry from the last administration. It had to subsidize the industry in the amount of $32 billion in just two years. The truth is the last administration was fully aware that the sugar industry was insolvent and that the cost to produce sugar was almost three times more than the price for it on the world market.
    Instead of making the unpopular decisions to close some of the sugar estates as this government has done, the PPP has spent more than $120 billion of public funds to subsidize GUYSUCO, and another US$200 million to build the Skeldon sugar factory that has never worked to full capacity. After five years it has been closed.
    While some believe that the PPP made the correct decision to keep the industry afloat if only for the foreign currency it yields, others say that it was a penny wise and pound foolish decision.
    Experts have concluded that it was the right, though unpopular decision to close three sugar factories and save the taxpayers billions of dollars in subsidies. They have concluded that sugar which was once king and the country’s major foreign currency earner is now dead. But the opposition and GAWU continue to accuse the government of being not concerned with the plight of the sugar workers.
    Lest we forget, former President Donald Ramotar sat on the Board of Directors of GUYSUCO for many years and did not implement any of the ideas he now espouses so glowingly in letters in this and other publications as to how to save the industry. No one in their right mind, not even the sugar workers should take him seriously.
    He may just be a mouthpiece for the failures of his party, which apart from subsidies, did little or nothing to improve the ailing sugar industry in the last 23 years, not even during his short-lived presidency.
    Fundamentally, the sugar workers were considered political pawns to the PPP, which in every election since 1992, has made huge promises to the sugar workers only to break them after being elected. It is time for the sugar-workers to wake-up and stop being political pawns to the opposition and acknowledge that this government has their long-term interest at heart.
    It was wrong for the PPP while in office to pump billions of dollars into GUYSUCO without a sustainable plan or strategy to make it viable.
    The sugar workers have suffered under successive regimes which had promised to modernise the industry and improve their well-being but has done completely the opposite. This government must now embark on a transparent and proactive strategy in the best interest of the sugar workers, GUYSUCO and the country as a whole.

  • lub  On 02/01/2018 at 8:09 pm

    Over the decades and during the PPP’s 23 years in Government, including Jagdeo’s 10 years presidency., little or nothing was done to make the sugar industry efficient, profitable, and economically sustainable., so that sugar workers will continuously be dependent, and be used as a ready ‘political tools’ of the PPP’s leadership in their narrow pursuit of political power to enhance their privileges, with complete disregard for the economic sustainability of the sugar industry and the long term economic well being of sugar workers and their families.

    In fact, equipment designed to modernize, mechanize, and facilitate efficient harvesting of sugar cane, was quietly shipped out of the country by the former inefficient/corrupt – PPP administration.

    Despite, Jagdeo and the PPP’s ‘crocodile tears’, political rhetoric, and theatricals., by the force of economic and political expediency, now, Jagdeo and Komal chand, have been ‘backed into a corner’ with no other viable option than to ‘support privatization’ and diversification of the sugar industry by the Granger led APNU+AFC administration, to help make it economically profitable and viable.

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