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Govt ministers differ on laying off of sugar workers now

Guyana’s Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder were Tuesday at odds over whether sugar workers should have been told now that they would be laid off at month-end.

Harmon said the decision by the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) to send home thousands of workers was not communicated to Cabinet and he was taken by surprise by reports in the media that the employees were issued letters telling them that they would be made redundant from December 31, 2017.

“Because of this nature of this matter that is something at least could have come to the Cabinet giving us some notification before time so at least if in fact the action had to be taken that they could make it softer…,” said Harmon who is the General Secretary of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), the major partner in the governing coalition.

Concerns have been expressed in some quarters about the political wisdom of issuing the redundancy letters to the workers just weeks before Christmas, 2017.

However, Holder said the decision to close the Skeldon, Rosehall-Canje  and Enmore operations of the ailing sugar corporation by the end of 2017 had been taken almost two years ago and is mentioned in the State Paper on the Sugar Industry that was tabled in the National Assembly.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.

The Agriculture Minister reasoned that it would make no sense to keep those estate operations open because no new cane has been planted the production of the sweetener. “The question is what happens after January the 1st. From the Guysuco standpoint, there is no cane in the ground. There is no way you can continue the operations of the factory because the cane has been finished so Guysuco is duty bound to do what they have to do,” he told reporters.

Holder is a member of the Alliance For Change (AFC), the other partner in the governing coalition.

For his part, the Minister of State argued that government, which has been providing cash-bailouts to Guysuco, should have been informed about the move to send home the workers. “The government, because of its responsibility to always provide bailouts for it and the fact that we have a bigger responsibility for ensuring that there is stability in the nation and that the people of this country, workers in particular are treated fairly, we believe that at least some prior notification ought to have been given of this letter that was sent out to these workers,” he said.

He stressed that the issuance of the redundancy letters has “come as a surprise to us”. “I, myself, was a bit surprised, that a major decision like that- the company would go ahead and do what they had to do”.

Harmon did not say if Cabinet discusses the matter whether the decision would be reversed at least for the time being. “Once it becomes before Cabinet a decision would be taken in the best interest of the people,” he said.


  • rs dasai

    Now ‘The Harmonious’ is resorting to a con job on the sugar workers. Imagine that ‘Cabinet’ was not ‘informed’ when this matter is always in the news. Only fools believe such barefacedness.

  • Col123

    Them chaps doing a Merry Christmas on them Indos…no mo welfare fuh them Indos, the gravy train must end….all me brothas keep saying!… it look like Indos gon buy villages now that their slavery days are coming to an end..
    Who in hell is running this country….or is Naggie taking a dump on Harmon?…

    • rudeo

      Indos?….so nice that Afro-Guy for not work for Guysuco….let the Indos suck salt…Bulkan….wow!…the good life

      • Col123

        Hey bro..all a them suga workers were on welfare sucking the government by toiling five mins a day in the cane field…you don’t need references…just read the hateful crap on these pages!

  • Lancelot Brassington

    What game is Harmon playing? Is he trying to stage comedy?Everybody knows that sugar estates have to be closed down. Everybody knows that more closures are imminent. What the heck is he talking about? Give me a break!!!

  • Col123

    MR…I don’t believe in conspiracy…but the cleansing in the civil services with those sent on leave, the government’s policy of shirking it’s responsibilities as a market maker, negotiating agreements for trade..rice…agricultural produce etc..and it’s downright intention of dumping sugar without any concrete alternative plans for economic alternatives, to support those afflicted, do not bode well for Guyanese Indos!

    • Muhammad Raoof

      That is a valid point…..the intent is clear. BUT amazing still is the clumsiness in the execution..

      The IDB pointed that out recently….…. a lack of strategic planning…. AND this is at the highest level.

      • REST

        They don’t care.

    • REST

      Nor does it bode well for Guyana.