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Sugar industry unions threaten more strike action

As a meeting between National Association of Agricultural and Commercial Industries Employees (NAACIE) and the head of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) concluded on Tuesday morning, the union warned that there might be protests in the coming weeks.

NAACIE General Secretary Kenneth Joseph told reporters outside of GuySuCO’s Head Office in Ogle that the meeting did not include any talks on wages but rather and update on the GuySuCo Commission of Inquiry (CoI).

He informed that despite his best efforts to put the issue on the table there was no support from GuySuCo.

Asked whether it was likely that the unions will resume strike actions, Joseph responded in the affirmative.

“The last question I asked is when would they be prepared to negotiate and I was advised I might know better than them.  So it is correct for me to say that GuySuCo does not know when it will negotiate,” Joseph stated.

Meanwhile, GAWU General Secretary Komal Chand registered some dismay with statements coming out of GuySuCo.

“What I think was not put over so well is when GuySuco said that workers may have a grim Christmas if they striked. What does that mean? Does It mean that GuySuCo is going to retaliate in some way? Workers are not taking it very kindly,” said Chand.

The state-owned and operated GuySuCo had warned sugar workers that they could be in for a bleak Christmas if they down tools again to pressure management into holding pay talks.

“If protest action continues, it could spell a grim Christmas for sugar workers and their families,” Guysuco said in a statement.

The unions wants to urgently enter into negotiations for a nine percent pay increase, but the corporation has been insisting that it could not do so before the lone shareholder in Guysuco- the Guyana government- considers a report of the Commission of Inquiry into the sugar industry.

Guysuco’s Chief Executive Officer, Errol Hanoman said it would make no sense to call another strike in which the workers would lose more pay and the sugar corporation would produce less of the sweetener.

“Tremendous goodwill was built up over the past few weeks as the industry surpassed its production targets. Hanoman cautioned the Union and its delegates against the loss of this goodwill which would accompany protest action at this time,” the corporation said in a statement.