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AFC says severance pay for sugar workers not sufficient

As details emerge in the National Assembly about plans to pay severance to sacked sugar workers and lease them land, the Alliance For Change (AFC) Thursday night called for much more than that.

“The AFC looks forward to an amicable resolution to this issue, but insists that as the Yuletide season is upon us, workers must not be adversely affected and the offer of severance must be thoroughly detailed and presented to the workers now,” the party said in a statement.

The AFC’s call came hours after Minister of State, Joseph Harmon announced that a “huge chunk” of money has been ser aside in the 2018 budget for severance pay. Demerara Waves Online News was told that GY$5 billion dollars have been allocated for severance pay to the estimated 4,000 workers who will be on the breadline from December 31, 2017.

Government also this week announced that a European Union-funded study is being conducted to explore the feasibility of leasing land to former sugar workers for agriculture purposes based on market demand.

Sugar workers have been answering questionnaires about areas of agriculture in which they are interested.

Following is the full text of the AFC’s statement.

The Alliance For Change reiterates its deep concern for the welfare of sugar workers who are likely to be affected by the changes contemplated by the GuySuCo.

The Party insists that as per the requirements in law, severance must be in place.

The Party recommends that in addition to severance, consideration must be given to:

– offer of land leases for alternative economic engagement
– access to small concession loans for said alternative engagement
– access to extension services and markets for agro-processing

The Party recognizes that the State Paper on GuySuCo which was laid in the National Assembly in May outlines certain actions which are necessary and unavoidable if the sugar industry is to be regularized and become sustainable.

The Party is cognizant that GuySuCo has been engaging with the workers and their unions for some time now regarding actions which are necessary and calls on GuySuCo to intensify this initiative to ensure that all workers are adequately briefed, counseled and are presented with all the necessary information regarding the future status of GuySuCo and the sugar sector.

The Party recognizes that the future of GuySuCo is of paramount importance and the government must continue to pursue those options for the sugar industry which is not a burden on the national treasury.

The AFC looks forward to an amicable resolution to this issue, but insists that as the Yuletide season is upon us, workers must not be adversely affected and the offer of severance must be thoroughly detailed and presented to the workers now.