Last Updated on Friday, 18 December 2015, 14:45 by GxMediaPresident of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand says his union is willing to settle for a six-month retroactive increase in wages for sugar workers.
Debating a motion by his People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPPC) to scrap an increase in ministerial salaries, the union boss begged that the pay-hike be included in the 2016 National Budget that is expected to be tabled in the National Assembly next month.
“Everybody is hoping that this matter will be corrected in the January budget and that the increase equivalent goes back to July 1st (2015) and that, Comrade Speaker, will go a far way to mend the matter,” he told the House.
Finance Minister, Winston Jordan has already ruled out the payment of a GYD$50,000 bonus to sugar workers similar that received by public sector workers.
Chand accused government of discriminating against sugar workers, a largely East Indian support base for the PPP. “I want to appeal to members of the government to treat with the workers in this country as they promised and I want to say without contradiction, there is a clear calculated state of discrimination against the sugar workers. How else it can be?,” he said.
Public sector workers-including teachers, nurses, members of the disciplined services- are mainly Afro-Guyanese most of whom support the governing coalition.
The A Partnership for National Unity+ Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) coalition administration thanked sugar workers for their contribution to the industry surpassing its target for the first time in years. “We wish to thank the workers for their hard work in ensuring that for the first time in over a decade targets have been not only reached but surpassed,” Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman told the House.
However, that did not go down well with Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo in his contribution to the debate. “Take, for example, the sugar workers who we heard did so wonderfully- they worked so hard, they surpassed the target. Honourable Member Trotman rightfully congratulated the sugar workers for surpassing the target.
And what did they get Mr. Speaker? The people who are providing sugar for this country, who are providing revenue for the State, who are providing income and foreign currency… what did they get for surpassing the target?- A Thank You from the National Assembly,” said Jagdeo.
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) announced that it exceeded its production target for 2015 by over 300 tonnes as of Monday, December 14, 2015. With three estates still grinding, the corporation is likely to add a few more thousand tonnes to its total.
The second crop target was set at 146,300 tonnes and this morning the production figure was 146,583 tonnes. The year’s total was set at 227,443 tonnes and to date 227, 727 tonnes has been achieved. This would be the first time in 11 years that GuySuCo has achieved a second crop target.
Guysuco and the GAWU are currently locked in the conciliation process on the issue of the API.