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Sugar workers stage another protest against Skeldon Estate privatisation

Scores of sugar workers on Tuesday lined the streets of Corriverton once again to protest Government’s decision to privatize the Skeldon Sugar Estate.

It was the first day for the year that work was scheduled for many of the workers as the estate had ceased grinding operations since last year due the unsafe conditions of the electricity co-generation plant used to the power the estate.

The crowd marched along the main access road from the Estate compound and then gathered at Republic Square where they were then addressed by fellow workers and union representatives.

President of the Guyana Agricultural Workers Union, Komal Chand noted that the sugar industry is one that is critical to the sustainability of the economy and cited the negative effects the privatization move will have on Guyana.

The union’s president stressed that the government has not been putting the needs of the people first and highlighted that government failed to make good on their promises to hopeful Guyanese of a better Guyana.

“The government promised us a lot of things. They promised an increase in wages for public servants. They promised rice farmers a better price for paddy. They even promised to keep the sugar industry alive. So why are they attempting to privatize the estate. Why are they attempting to leave thousands of sugar workers jobless.”

Chand highlighted that the closure of the Wales estate is a failure since all that has been done to replace the industry is the cultivation of about 200 acres of rice. Further, he urged the workers to continue the fight as he promised that the union will not allow the efforts of those who made the ultimate sacrifice to be wasted.

“We must continue to let our voices be heard. We must not allow this move to come to past. This estate, this sugar industry is our livelihood. Sugar has been apart of our culture for years so I urge you to not let it die.”

Meanwhile, General Secretary of the Union Seepaul Narine who opined that the estate does not need to be privatized addressed the issue of the Skeldon modernization plant being a failed investment.

Nairne argued that the Cogeneration plant made $9.5B last year deeming it a worthy investment.

Since Government’s announcement on plans its says will transform the sugar industry into a more sustainable venture, a nationwide strike action began resulting in thousands of sugar workers rallying together to voice their concerns on the move. This strike action led to production falling drastically as sugar workers retired their cane cutting equipment and dawn placards lining the streets hoping government might shift from their decision.

  • melkend

    Komal Chand and the rest of the PPP folks sabotaged the sugar industry for years, while promising pipe dreams to the sugar workers. How can anyone expect an industry to survive if it cannot make a profit ? Sugar has been dying for years, yet they did not see it fit to diversity nor modernize the industry. Brazil modernized their sugar industry 15 years ago, and is now an energy self sufficient country partially due to this, as they took their cane and made it into fuel. We did the study here and decided that if we do the same, it would compete with the making of rum, instead of planting more cane, so we can diversify the industry. What are they marching for? Selling more bull s**t ?

  • REST

    Closing down sugar!! In Guyana. How dumb can you be?

    • Parbudin Mackanlall

      So sustaining a failing, draining, unprofitable industry with handouts when everyone including (no especially) the last government knew it would end up in this state, is your idea of smart? The father of the Skeldon Modernization Plant deserves North Korean style justice.

      • REST

        Sugar in Guyana is not just a bottomhouse business, 16000 plus lives depend on it.

        It is said that Guysuco has $80B in subsidies. Let us begin with drainage and irrigation. Guysuco maintains a large portion of the coastal plain. Let a dollar value be put to the portion that the government should be maintaining, for how many ever years it should have been, then deduct it from the debt.

        The sugar levy must be deducted from the debt.

        We still produce sugar cheaper than our Caribbean sister countries.

        We can produce ethanol. We can produce chocolates and candies. Charles chocolates are known worldwide and is produced in Trinidad and they closed their sugar industry. What can we do with our sugar?

        What do we do with the laid off workers and how much will that cost us? Give them land to plant? Whose pie in the sky idea was that? Will the accounts clerk in the admin building suddenly go out and plant egg plant? For export???

        Closing sugar down now is a dumb idea, especially since we are a few years from a windfall in oil that will allow us to invest and diversify the industry.

  • Parbudin Mackanlall

    It is pitiful the way GAWU and the PPP control their supporters by rhetoric, hysteria and empty rambling. Let them present a game plan for making the sugar industry profitable with timelines included. Let them explain why they failed to make it profitable in twenty+ years. But I guess as Freddy Kissoon says, PPP supporters are not interested in logic. Its amazing that in this day and age people buy into such garbage.

  • raj ramsingh

    PM, who is really making Empty promises? if you cannot give biscuits then do not take away the bread. what has this gov’t done for more than two years to make our lives better? what will the thousands of present sugar workers do for a living when you take away from them what they have now. is this gov’t putting up any proposal for these people?
    don’t know if you are living in Guyana, but this is really Burnham style economy; the gov’t top bracket enjoying a lavish lifestyle while we the ordinary people keep wondering ; WHAT NEXT!!!!!
    this is the dictatorship we had wanted to avoid, but we follow Nagaman (snakeman) and Rumghaat and this is what we are reaping. everyday it is becoming more and more difficult to survive while the top boys are really having a GOOD LIFE.

  • Mother Sally

    this is another sordid reminder that logic and reason have been rendered asunder in favour of voodoo economics and the self serving interests of the GAWU hierarchy on the bedrock of zombie politics.