Albion tillage workers asking for sustained payments despite less work
While saying that it is seeking to resolve its ongoing dispute with Mechanical Tillage Operators at the Albion Estate, in Berbice, the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) yesterday explained that its decision to reduce payment for the filling of drains was based on the decrease in the scale of the work.
The workers attached to the mechanical tillage gang at the estate went on strike last week over the delay by the corporation in addressing their concerns about the reduced payments.
The workers told Stabroek News that the estate’s management reduced the rates of pay for filling of a four-foot drain from $225 a rod to $56 per rod during the first crop. They said the reduction to 25% of what they originally received is too low.
GuySuCo, however, explained yesterday in a statement that in some areas, the “broad four-foot drains” were replaced with narrow drains that are far less in volume. As a result, it said management subsequently re-examined the activity and it was discovered that the same rate for filling the broad drain was being paid to fill the narrow drains.
GuySuCo also noted that that in collaboration with the union it determined that the workers are only required to fill a drain approximately 20% the size of the “broad four-foot drains,” but a demand is still being made for the original payments.
It added that management had justified its position for an applicable rate for the reduced activity and the corporation and the union have been engaging each other on this matter through the established grievance procedure.
“After careful consideration looking at all variables, it was decided that drain filling should be done well in advance, making work ready for the mechanical tillage operators, so that they can focus more to enhance productivity and efficiency on more core activities, such as ploughing, first and second harrowing at a time when opportunity days for mechanical tillage has reduced by 64% over the last 16 years. This will result in significant cost saving where payment is being made for actual work done or completed,” it further said. The Albion Estate, GuySuCo pointed out, has so far achieved five (5) weekly production incentives for the second crop through the valiant efforts of its employees, earning them five additional average days’ pay. “With the prevailing dry spell, the estate, in its remaining ten weeks of operation, can attain additional days’ pay unhindered. One can only asked questions about the motives or intentions of those who are encouraging this group of employees with this action,” it said in reference to the striking workers.