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Sugar workers sacked; strike sparked off

Approximately 380 workers on the East Demerara Estate downed tools Tuesday morning protesting the dismissal of 15 cane harvesters, the Guyana Sugar Corporation said in a statement.

The sugar corporation said the workers were summarily dismissed over the weekend and Mondayfor inadequate application of fertilizer, intended for 10 weeks-old cane plants, at Felicity Fields 49, 49A, 52 and 53, a section of the LBI cultivation, on 24th and 25th July 2014. Prior to the dismissal of these 15 workers, 3 junior staff and 1 senior were earlier dismissed on 26th September 2014 and 19th September 2014, respectively, for allowing these workers to have fertilizer inadequately applied to the cane plants. These 15 workers have adequate experience in the application of fertilizer, since it is routine for them to be assigned to this task during the out-of-crop periods.

Management, in their routine inspection, discovered that many cane plants were devoid of fertilizer, and as a consequence a thorough examination was done only to expose that there were massive skipping in the application of the fertilizer. Subsequently, the Corporation’s agriculture audit team was deployed to make an assessment of the extent of fertilizer not being applied to the cane plants. It was revealed that there were massive skipping, and further the supervisory staff made full payment to the 15 workers for the poor quality of work done. 226 CWT of fertilizer was intended to be applied on the fields that comprised 20.3 Ha, of which it’s estimated that almost half of the amount was applied. The rest could not be accounted for.

The Corporation expends annually approximately $2Bln to import fertilizer and finds it totally unacceptable that fertilizer that is intended to nurture the cane plants could not be applied to them in the stipulated amount. This development could be the contributing factor for the East Demerara Estate experiencing low cane yields and stunted cane growth. The Corporation will continue to exercise a zero tolerance for this type of work behaviour, and in this sense wishes to advise those workers who are on strike to have an immediate end to their protest action and allow either the process of the grievance and/or disciplinary procedures to have their course.

The East Demerara Estate is expected to commence its 1st crop this year mid next week and the strike by the factory workers could only jeopardize the startup of this crop.