GAWU and NAACIE ap­peal clo­sure de­ci­sion

Weekend Mirror - - EDITORIAL -

The

Guyana Agri­cul­tural and Gen­eral Work­ers Union ( GAWU) and the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Agri­cul­tural, Com­mer­cial and In­dus­trial Em­ploy­ees (NAACIE) have ap­pealed Chief Justice (a.g.) Rox­anne Ge­orge-Wilt­shire’s Novem­ber 10, 2017 de­nial of our application to quash Guysuco and Cabi­net’s de­ci­sion to close the East De­mer­ara and Rose Hall Es­tates.

Our Unions con­tended be­fore the learned Chief Justice that the clo­sure de­ci­sions were im­proper and there were in­suf­fi­cient con­sul­ta­tions be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and GuySuCo, on one hand, and the GAWU and the NAACIE, on the other. We pointed out to the Courts that con­sul­ta­tions be­tween the Unions, the Op­po­si­tion and the Gov­ern­ment re­gard­ing the fu­ture of the sugar in­dus­try can­not be deemed as ac­cept­able not­ing that just about four (4) hours in to­tal were spent on the three (3) oc­ca­sions the par­ties met. GAWU and NAACIE con­tended that we have a le­git­i­mate ex­pec­ta­tion to be con­sulted in a com­pre­hen­sive man­ner and pointed to pre­vi­ous in­stances where GuySuCo in­volved our Unions ex­ten­sively in con­sid­er­ing de­ci­sions which would have af­fected the em­ploy­ment of work­ers.

GAWU and NAACIE il­lus­trated that the Sugar Com­mis­sion of In­quiry (CoI) spent sev­eral hun­dred man hours over many days in re­view­ing in­for­ma­tion, con­sid­er­ing sub­mis­sions from sev­eral in­di­vid­u­als and or­ga­ni­za­tions, and vis­it­ing the es­tates and in­ter­act­ing with work­ers and man­age­rial per­son­nel and at the end of that process rec­om­mended that clo­sure should not be pur­sued. Our Unions con­tended too that the clo­sure de­ci­sion clearly was not in­formed by the full con­sid­er­a­tion of all the fac­tors which we have pointed out es­pe­cially that a so­cio-eco­nomic study was not pur­sued though it was nec­es­sary. Fur­ther­more, we ar­gued that the clo­sure de­ci­sion did not fol­low the clearly set out procedure con­tained in the Trade Union Recog­ni­tion Act and the Ter­mi­na­tion of Em­ploy­ment and Sev­er­ance Pay Act. Our Unions are seek­ing that the Gov­ern­ment and GuySuCo en­gage in a proper and full con­sul­ta­tion as we hold that such an ex­er­cise will re­sult in a dif­fer­ent de­ci­sion be­ing taken.

We be­lieve our ap­peal has great merit and sub­stance and be­lieve that the learned Chief Justice (a.g.) erred in her de­ter­mi­na­tion to deny our application. Rec­og­niz­ing that time for the clo­sure de­ci­sion is quickly ap­proach­ing, we have in­tended to file sub­mis­sions seek­ing that the Ap­peal Court con­sid­ers our mat­ter at the soon­est.

Com­pen­sa­tion for dis­placed Wales’ work­ers

Sep­a­rately, our Unions are seek­ing that the High Court re­quires the State to pay dam­ages to the exWales Es­tate work­ers. In our le­gal sub­mis­sions, our Unions are ar­gu­ing that the State, as the owner of GuySuCo, by virtue of sev­eral ar­ti­cles of the Con­sti­tu­tion is bound to pro­vide suit­able al­ter­na­tive em­ploy­ment or in­come sup­port in lieu of work to the dis­placed work­ers for the rest of their work­ing-life. We have also sought that the af­fected work­ers re­ceive a pen­sion equiv­a­lent to what they would have re­ceived had they been em­ployed by GuySuCo.

Our Unions have ar­gued that sugar work­ers have a fair ex­pec­ta­tion to em­ploy­ment un­til they at­tain pen­sion­able age with many fol­low­ing their par­ents, grand­par­ents and other fore­fa­thers into the sugar in­dus­try. Fur­ther­more, GAWU and NAACIE are ar­gu­ing that sugar work­ers pos­sess unique skills which are not por­ta­ble pre­sent­ing a grave dif­fi­culty for them to se­cure em­ploy­ment be­yond the in­dus­try.

It is in­tended that sim­i­lar ac­tions would be pur­sued re­gard­ing the work­ers of Skel­don, Rose Hall and East De­mer­ara Es­tate when the de­ci­sions con­cern­ing those es­tates fruc­tify. We are also hope­ful that this mat­ter would re­ceive speedy at­ten­tion given the dif­fi­cult times that have be­set the peo­ple of Wales.

Our Unions are for­ti­fied in our de­ter­mi­na­tion to pro­tect the work­ers who will be af­fected by the plans for sugar. We be­lieve that we should use every avail­able op­tion in our ef­forts to safe­guard the work­ers, their fam­i­lies and their com­mu­ni­ties, who are seem­ingly, at this time, can be said to be up the river with­out a pad­dle. Clearly, it is our strongly held view, that they are no real or work­able al­ter­na­tives for the dis­placed sugar work­ers and they, their fam­i­lies and their com­mu­ni­ties will suf­fer tremen­dously from the cold-hearted ap­proach to the in­dus­try. (Press Re­lease)

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