GAWU points to marked pay decline for sugar workers

first_imgThe Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has said that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) workers have seen on average, a pay decline of approximately $284,000 over four years since 2014, something it has major concern about.General Secretary of the union Seepaul Narine disclosed that workers in the sugar industry are being paid rates-of-pay that were adjusted last in 2014. He said in the over 1,500 day or over 4 year period that has elapsed since the GuySuCo has chosen not to award its employees a pay rise, the workers have had to contend with several new measures.“Undoubtedly these impacted on their pockets and well-being. In the period since workers’ pay rates were adjusted, we must point out, according to the Bureau of Statistics, the cost of food, one of the most significant expenditure of workers, has risen by 12.4 per cent,” he highlighted.Narine also pointed out that in the intervening period, the cost of medical and personal care has risen by 8.5 per cent. “We recognise from the corporation’s financial statements between 2014 and 2017, average pay per worker in the sugar industry has declined on average by $284,000.”But the GAWU official did not stop there, he told the year-end press conference that when considering the wages earned by workers represented by GAWU, and taking into account the seasonality of their jobs, the loss of benefits and their earnings for other categories, it’s hard not to conclude that the field and factory workers take-home pay have recorded further declines.“It must be difficult for the workers to look around and see their relatives and friends employed elsewhere benefitting from increases in pay and improved working conditions thus allowing them to be better able to cope with the new realities of life and allow them to move forward in their lives whereas they are worse off than they were four years ago,” he posited.Further, the Union’s General Secretary also underscored that is it sad when GuySuCo, in some respect, repeats what occurred in the 1980s. He recalled during that period a nearly identical situation presented itself and was only corrected when workers’ pay rates suited the reality.He said, “While we do not believe it is wise to live in the past, we also should commit ourselves to avoiding a repeat of our pitfalls. On this score, we recall what former UK Prime Minister, Winston Churchill famously said seventy years ago “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it”.ProductionSpeaking about sugar production, Narine said at the week-ending December 22, production for the year stood at 103,511 tonnes for all remaining estates.While the union representative has expressed satisfaction with the fact that Government had offered a bonus to sugar workers, it said this initiative is nothing new to the industry. Finance Minister Winston Jordan, in his 2018 National Budget address, had informed the nation that 115,447 tonnes of sugar would have been produced this year.Meanwhile, while recognising that GuySuCo promised a bonus payment, the Union said this is by no means a new initiative. In fact, the arrangement under consideration is identical to the Annual Production Incentive (API) scheme which was suspended for a few years now.The API, as GAWU shared before, dates back to colonial times and is a form of deferred earnings premised on annual sugar production. “For the workers, the fact that the Corporation has offered such an incentive is a clear indication that their collective voices and actions could not be ignored by the GuySuCo hierarchy and, possibly, the powers-that-be,” he added.Workers, he said, remain concerned that the corporation has yet to consider the Union’s claim for a 15 per cent rise-in-pay retroactive to January 01, 2018. At this time, the GAWU and GuySuCo have already concluded discussions on the non-wage benefits. Those engagements resulted in a few improvements being secured, Narine also stated.GAWU says 2018 was indeed a remarkable year, which brought justice, though somewhat delayed, to workers. Narine said it also demonstrated the correctness of the Union’s positions and showed that despite adversity and difficulty workers can succeed.last_img read more