A forty-two (42) person team comprised the delegation of Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) that met with the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) on (Tuesday) April 05, 2016 at the LBI Training Building. At the meeting, the parties commenced discussions with respect to improvements of a number of fringe benefits pertaining to the Field Foremen/Forewomen and the Field and Factory workers who make up over ninety-five (95) per cent of the Corporation’s 17,000 workforce. Through its fringe claims, the Union sought improvements in the provision of tools, safety equipment, allowances, among other things.
It is recalled that the fringe benefit claims as well as the workers’ wage/salary claim seeking a rise in pay were submitted to GuySuCo since March, 2015.
GuySuCo which had hitherto refused to engage the Union on the two (2) above issues obviously changed its stance. This change followed the workers’ picketing exercises, the sporadic strike actions, especially the weekly Tuesday strike, the Union’s Press Statements and commentaries, among other things.
Next Wednesday (April 13, 2016), the Union and the Corporation are likely to complete the examination of the GAWU’s fringe benefit claims on which occasion the Corporation, expectedly, would provide its answers.
The Union, notwithstanding the Corporation’s announcement that the sugar workers would not be granted any pay rise for 2015, is demanding that it be heard on its pay increase claims. The Union is looking forward to the Corporation to provide financial statements and other relevant information during the expected discussions. The discussions having started on the fringe benefit claims, the Corporation would be in an invidious position in not wanting to engage the Union on the wage/salary issue.
The Union’s call to be engaged in Collective Bargaining is supported by the Constitution of Guyana, the Trade Union Recognition Act, the Collective Labour Agreement and ILO Convention 98. GAWU, therefore, would oppose GuySuCo’s stance should it continue to disrespect the Collective Bargaining process.
It is most unfortunate that more than three (3) months have passed since the end of 2015 and only now the Corporation is meeting with the Union. GAWU wants all of its claims for last year to be fully examined without further delay.