The Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) met and concluded discussions with the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) on the workers’ fringe benefit claims on April 05 and 15, 2016. Those claims like the Union’s 9 per cent pay rise claim were submitted to the Corporation since March 03, 2015.
The Corporation, in discussions on the fringe benefits with the Union, consented to increase the annualized leave from four (4) to five (5) weeks regarding those field foremen/forewomen who have fifteen (15) years’ service; to make available to trench cleaner operators one rain cloak per year, and a pair of long boots per year to scrappers who are workers, other than the operators, attached to the machines which transport the harvested canes from the fields into the cane punts. Though very minor, workers will appreciate these adjustments arrived at after the two (2) parties were engaged in discussions.
The Corporation, however, decided not to engage the Union on the pay rise claim. This exhibits a double standard since on the fringe claims, the process was gone through and the Corporation was convinced to approve some adjustments.
As we pointed out in our press release of April 06, 2016, “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.”
The Union’s 42-person delegation, after the completion of the fringe benefits discussions on April 15, 2016 pressed that the Corporation approve a date to commence discussions of the Union’s 9 per cent wage/salary claim. GuySuCo retorted that it communicated on March 22, 2016 that it would not offer any increase in pay for 2015 and, therefore, would not discuss this claim.
GuySuCo is obligated to discuss the pay rise claim in keeping with the Constitution of Guyana, the Trade Union Recognition Act, the ILO Convention 98 and the Collective Labour Agreement. Its failure to do would be an indictment on the Corporation.
GAWU is aware of the sugar workers’ culture, true of workers generally, in defending their rights and benefits. As stated on several occasions before, GAWU sees this claim as justifiable and will insist that GuySuCo discuss the matter with the Union. It is a shame on the Administration to deny pay increases for 2015 to sugar workers – for the first time in thirty (30) years and the only category of state employees not to receive such.
GAWU will stand with its members in defending their legal and hard-won right to Collective Bargaining and other pertinent agreements related to their employment. The GAWU remains optimistic, in spite of the on-going hurdles, that the workers struggle will be met with success.