Workers of all the gangs of Albion Estate downed tools on Thursday — the first scheduled day of harvesting of the canes of the second crop. This has severely affected operations at the Estate, the Guyana Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) reported.
According to the union, the workers are calling on the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (GuySuCo) to address an increase in pay. GAWU is claiming discrimination.
“It cannot be forgotten that sugar workers wages have been frozen since 2015. The naked discrimination against this hardworking group of the state’s employees manifested through denials of pay increases and attacks on other long-standing benefits and conditions coupled with an ever-rising tax burden, among the other hardships of contemporary Guyanese life, have severely eroded the workers and their families purchasing power and by extension, their standard of living.”
The workers also said to be peeved over the “arbitrary hiking” of the Estate’s weekly production targets. They contend that the increase in the Estate’s targets from 2,100 tonnes sugar to 2,140 would be disadvantageous and will prevent the estate from realising the target, thus affecting incentives arising on the attainment of the target.
GAWU says the workers argue that the inability to achieve the target through the increase could well daunt their commitment and belie the notion of the incentive in the first place.
“Additionally, workers engaged in the mechanical loading of canes are upset regarding what they believe is an unnecessary change in their hours of work. The bell loaders operators as they are known would usually work from 06:00h to 18:00h during the cropping period, however, the Corporation, without rhyme or reason and in ignorance of the workers’ concerns, are requiring the workers in question to work from 10:00h to 22:00h.”
The Union says that it is awaiting a meeting with the Industrial Relations Department of GuySuCo to address the matter.
“Indeed, the several matters and concerns which, it seems, are not being sincerely considered by the GuySuCo have deeply upset the workers. They charged that they continue to give their best efforts and seek, at all times, to go above and beyond and yet, it appears, they are treated in the shabbiest of manners. This is not a healthy development and we are hopeful that the Corporation will, with an open mind and listening ear, consider the workers’ cries.”