GuySuCo starts to lay off Rose Hall Es­tate sugar work­ers

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Guyana Sugar Cor­po­ra­tion ( GuySuCo) has started lay­ing off work­ers from t he Rose Hall Es­tate in Ber­bice de­spite Gov­ern­ment’s an­nounce­ment that the fa­cil­ity would no longer be closed at the end of this year.

In a let­ter seen by INews, GuySuCo dis­con­tin­ued the ser­vices of Rose Hall Field Su­per­vi­sor Ram­nar­ine Subra­ma­nian, un­der the Ju­nior Staff Re­dun­dancy No­ti­fi­ca­tion.

The let­ter dated Novem­ber 26, 2017 stated that a meet­ing was held at the Rose Hall Es­tate Com­mu­nity Cen­tre on Novem­ber 22, in the pres­ence of his union, the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Agri­cul­tural, Com­mer­cial and In­dus­trial Em­ploy­ees (NAACIE). It was ob­served in the doc­u­ment therein that the Cor­po­ra­tion had no va­cant post to al­ter­na­tively re­tain Subra­ma­nian’s ser­vices.

Rose Hall Field Su­per­vi­sor Ram­nar­ine Subra­ma­nian’s let­ter in­di­cates De­cem­ber 29 is his last day as a GuySuCo em­ployee

“The Cor­po­ra­tion has given con­sid­er­a­tion to the op­tion of you con­tin­u­ing in an­other job within (the) or­gan­i­sa­tion. How­ever, there is no suit­able va­cancy to ac­com­mo­date you,” the let­ter stated.

Moreover, it was stated that the no­tice would ex­pire on De­cem­ber 29, 2017 which will be his last day with the Rose Hall Es­tate and GuySuCo, and it was fur­ther ob­served that the ter­mi­na­tion was in keep­ing with the Ter­mi­na­tion of Em­ploy­ment and Sev­er­ance Pay Act 1997 (TESPA).

Mean­while, Guyana Agri­cul­tural and Gen­eral Worker’s Union (GAWU) Pres­i­dent Ko­mal Chand re­lated that many East De­mer­ara ( En­more) Es­tate and Rose Hall Es­tate work­ers have al­ready been ter­mi­nated, and some of them have re­ceived their sev­er­ance pack­ages. He, how­ever, said that pay­ments to the ma­jor­ity of work­ers were still out­stand­ing and ex­pressed hope that the sit­u­a­tion would not end up like Wales Es­tate’s case where af­ter al­most one year, work­ers are still to be paid ter­mi­na­tion ben­e­fits.

“Some have got their sev­er­ance pay, but the bulk is yet to get their sev­er­ance pay and they are hop­ing there will be no hitch like in the case of Wales,” he told this newspaper on Wed­nes­day.

Chand added that GuySuCo’s re­dun­dancy mea­sures have come as a de­par­ture to what Gov­ern­ment, through Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Noel Holder, had of­fi­cially told the Na­tional As­sem­bly ear­lier this year re­gard­ing the fu­ture of the sugar in­dus­try.

“They said in their State pa­per, De­cem­ber 31 but they stopped plant­ing canes the first part of this year and t hen t hey be­gan t o find some other jobs,” he pointed out.

The veteran trade union­ist fur­ther con­tended that many work­ers would spend t heir hol­i­days i n un­cer­tainty and their early re­moval would hin­der their over­all plans for year end.

“For them (sugar work­ers), i t will be a bleak Christ­mas be­cause t hey would not be work­ing and they are not too cer­tain when they will all get their sev­er­ance pay,” Chand pointed out.

In May 2017, that Gov­ern­ment an­nounced plans to close the En­more and Rose Hall Sugar Es­tates, sell the Skel­don Sugar Fact ory, re­duce t he an­nual pro­duc­tion of sugar, and take on the re­spon­si­bil­ity of man­ag­ing the drainage and ir­ri­ga­tion ser­vices of­fered by GuySuCo. Sev­eral protest ac­tions fol­lowed this an­nounce­ment. In Oc- to­ber, GuySuCo had dis­closed plans to re­trench some 2500 work­ers by the end of this year. How­ever, GAWU re­it­er­ated that the down­siz­ing and sub­se­quent clo­sure of sugar es­tates would lead to the loss of more than 15,000 jobs and the po­ten­tial threat of poverty for 50,000 to 100,000 peo­ple.

In Novem­ber, how­ever, Min­is­ter of State, Joseph Har­mon an­nounced t hat Rose Hall’s clo­sure was pushed back to some­time in 2018. The unions, GAWU and NAACIE, had moved to the High Court to quash Gov­ern­ment’s move to close the East De­mer­ara and Rose Hall Es­tates, but act­ing Chief Justice Rox­ane Ge­orge ruled against this application. The matt er i s about t o gain t he at­ten­tion of t he Ap­peal Court as the unions have chal­lenged the lead judge’s de­ci­sion. The unions have em­barked upon ten­der­ing sub­mis­sions for the court’s con­sid­er­a­tion be­fore the mat­ter can pro­ceed.

The Min­is­ter of State had an­nounced t hat t he Spe­cial Pur­poses Unit ( SPU), which was es­tab­lished un­der the Na­tional In­dus­trial and Com­mer­cial In­vest­ments Lim­ited (NICIL) would man­age the pri­vati­sa­tion/ di­vest­ment process of GuySuCo and de­ter­mine the way for­ward for Rose Hall Es­tate. (inews)

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