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Strike leads to shutdown of sugar estate

Wednesday, August 29, 2012 | 9:47 AM    

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana – The state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) says it has stopped all operations at the Blairmont Sugar Estate with immediate effect as a result of escalating industrial action by workers since last week.

In a statement, GUYSUCO said the industrial action had “escalated to the point where workers have abandoned their jobs, resulting in a substantial amount of cane perishing and denial of work to 850 harvesters for two days”.

It said that the strike is “in blatant violation of the grievance procedure that provides, among others, for dialogue at various levels until a dispute or grievance is resolved.

“The Corporation cannot condone such reckless behaviour on the part of the workers; as such it will meet with the union to discuss the gravity of the disruption caused by employees abandoning their jobs and the application of the appropriate sanctions.”

The workers are demanding that all income generated from doing piece work be used in the computation of retroactive payment following the job evaluation, and that all delayed payments be done immediately.

The Blairmont workers are also demanding an adjustment to current pay grades.

GUYSUCO said that it had informed the workers that all outstanding payments will be made on Friday, August 31, and the other issues would be dealt with through the proper grievance procedure.

“Notwithstanding these undertakings, the workers walked off the job during the shift,” GUYSUCO said, adding that operations were normal on all shifts over the weekend.

But it said “on Monday, August 27 the entire workforce again downed tools with the same demands made on Friday.

“A meeting between senior corporate management and executives of the union concluded with an agreement for immediate cessation of the strike, unfortunately, this did not happen, and the strike continued, despite the agreement being reached.

“In addition to the deteriorating quality of the 400 punts of cane, there are 85 more harvested and left in the fields. At this stage the deterioration in the cane quality has resulted in sugar loss of 100 tonnes that could have yielded GUY$13 million (One Guyana dollar = US$0.004 cents) in revenue.

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