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Ex-sugar workers call for Agriculture Minister’s removal

first_imgWales severance criesAs Wales sugar workers continued to decry the challenges they are facing since the closure of the Estate, the former employees, their family members and other supporters once again protested the refusal of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to give them severance pay as they called for Agriculture Minister Noel Holder’s removal.Enough is enough! Former Wales workers and their supporters gathered outside the Ministry of the Presidency and Agriculture Ministry, calling for severance benefits (Carl Croker photos)“Who must go? Holder must go,” was the resounding call by the ex-employees on Wednesday as they gathered outside the Ministry of the Presidency (MotP) and Ministry of Agriculture. The former employees made it clear that they must be paid their severance.This was underscored by father of four Alvin Bradford, who is demanding his termination benefits.“I does plant and I does cut lil broom and sell, but I can’t go at no company for wuk, they paying $1500 and $2000 a day – that can’t do nothing for me and I got four children and that ain’t easy to maintain. When the Estate shut down, that was the last one I get,” Bradford noted.Guyana Times was told that Minister Holder was upset that the protest was held outside his Ministry as the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) took over management of the Wales Estate, which was transferred from GuySuCo to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) last December.The workers said on Wednesday that not being able to earn was not only affecting the education of their children but their family life as a whole, since couples have had many arguments over declining finances.“Whatsoever thing you plant and sell, that’s it. You’re not getting work. Work hard at Wales, you can see it’s like ghost-town right now. Before when the Estate was alive, we were happy, but now we getting more sad, getting more quarrels, everything not right in the home,” a retrenched worker observed.Young men in their late teens and early twenties were also affected by the Estate’s closure. Supporting their colleagues, they indicated that they too were facing challenges. Amos Sookram told this publication that he was “expecting changes” from President David Granger, but as of now, he did not know “what is going on” in Guyana. A father of one, “Sonny”, said that he worked for five years and was waiting on his severance. He voiced concerns over the conduct of Education Ministry officials and the Police when going about “picking up children” in the Wales area, as he contended that the parents “have no choice” other than to keep their children at home.More than 300 former Wales employees who refused employment at Uitvlugt are still waiting on severance. The workers declined to take up work at the West Coast Demerara Estate since it is 22 miles away from Wales, noting that this violates the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA). A court action since was filed on behalf of the workers by their representative body, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) in March last year. However, to date, the matter is yet to be assigned to a judge by the acting Chief Justice. Speaking on this matter on Wednesday, GAWU President Komal Chand related that the Union was still waiting on the judicial arm to act on the matter.Official operations at Wales Estate were shut down in December 2017. Earlier this month, the former Wales sugar workers staged similar 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 has long maintained that they 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.last_img

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