Ex-workers to picket President’s office tomorrow

first_imgWales severance criesAfter feeling that their calls have been ignored, former Wales Sugar Estate cane harvesters will once again picket the President’s office with the aim of having someone in authority look into their severance package plight.According to information received by Guyana Times, the former employees, their families and other supporters will gather at the Ministry of the Presidency on Wednesday morning to intensify their calls for termination benefits. This publication was told that the protest was likely to be taken to the High Court as almost one year has passed and the workers’ legal suit was yet to be called up before a judge.Former workers of Wales Estate have planned additional protests for tomorrowOfficial operations at the Wales Estate were closed in December 2016, and some displaced cane cutters were still to receive their severance pay. Earlier this month, the former Wales workers staged similar protest action and expressed much frustration that their colleagues from other estates were paid all or part of their severance, just weeks after the entities were closed.However, their former employer, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has maintained that these workers were not entitled to this benefit, with acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the State entity, Paul Bhim saying earlier this month that GuySuCo has honoured all its obligations regarding the payment of severance at the Wales Estate.The workers who have been refused severance had refused to take up work at Uitvlugt on the contention that 22 miles were beyond the stipulation that the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA) allows. They have observed that they could not be compelled to travel beyond 10 miles from their original place of work. The retrenched employees’ representative body, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) had taken the matter to court since March 2017.Since losing their jobs in late 2016, the former Wales Estate workers, their relatives and other residents in the surrounding communities have complained of deleting finances and sustenance challenges. Reports reaching this newspaper indicated that the remaining skeletal staff at Wales will similarly lose their employment as early as March.The closure of Wales affected and displaced over 1000 workers directly and thousands of persons in Wales and the surrounding communities indirectly. Meanwhile, over 4000 workers attached to the Enmore, Skeldon, and Rose Hall Estates were given dismissal letters in December 2017. However, some of the former Enmore and Skeldon workers could be rehired under plans by the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) to re-open the two estates as the State-owned body eyes private investors. This revelation has prompted stakeholders, including GAWU, to push Government to rehire all of the dismissed sugar workers on the contention that the sugar industry remained viable.Meanwhile, GAWU on Monday sought to respond to media reports that when Enmore and Skeldon resume temporary operations that cane cutting will be undertaken by a contractor reportedly from West Coast Demerara. GAWU views this report as an upsetting development, noting that this indicates that few of the displaced workers will have an opportunity to be re-employed.According to its press statement, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) has found that the promotion of such arrangements has served to “expand the army of the working poor across the world”.last_img

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