We, the people, supporters of Better Guyana, friends of sugar workers and the Guyanese Solidarity Movement-New York, gathered at this Rally at the Naresa Palace Queens, New York, on March 27,2016 are alarmed by the reckless and undemocratic decisions being taken by the government that would ruin the sugar industries and the rural communities.
We find the announcement by government to close Wales sugar factory by the end of 2016, without any specific viable alternative, and the eventual dismantling of the sugar industry, mind boggling. As an employer, sugar is to Guyana what JFK airport, the New York transit system and health aide and security employment agencies put together, are to south Queens. Guyana without sugar is a catastrophe of epic proportions. Extreme poverty will envelope the estates and villages. The communities in the sugar belt will die a slow, painful death.
Despite the challenges, sugar is a major contributor to foreign exchange earnings, the largest employer in the country and provides vital services and linkages to rural communities and to other productive sectors. Moreover sugar has always been resilient and there is no doubt that it can and will make a come back, given a chance and the support of the administration as President Obama did in the great recession with the auto industry in the US.
The sugar industry has produced some of Guyana’s greatest sons and daughters and we are convinced that dismantling of the industry is not in the best interest of Guyana. We believe too, that this golden jubilee year of Independence is not the time to announce the demise of the most important agricultural enterprise in the country. On this occasion we should proclaim our determination to overcome our difficulties not to announce our surrender.
We appeal to government to listen to the cries of workers and the voice of reason and to commit to return the industry to its glory days for the benefit of all Guyanese. We urge government to
- scrap the closure plans of Wales and any other estates and adopt interim bailout measures
- end the harassment of the Unions and negotiate in good faith with them.
- stop the discrimination in wage increase and benefits for sugar workers. If Ministers of government and other public servants can get an increase, why not sugar workers?
- convene national dialogue with all the stakeholders in the industry; unions, civic society, experts and government the situation in the industry.
- work for a consensus on the way forward for sugar.
We express solidarity and support for
- the struggle to save the sugar industry.
- the on-going protest on the sugar estates
- the sugar workers and their Unions defending their livelihoods.
We suggest that May 26th. be designated a National Day of Solidarity with Sugar.
Adopted on 03.27.16.