Hundreds of sugar workers across Guyana's sugar belt on Thursday down tools to show support for workers affected by the impending close of the Wales sugar factory.
According to a release from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), the solidarity strike proceeded during the day with picketing exercises at the various Estates Administrative offices with placards reading “No to the closure of Wales Estate”, “Poverty, Destitution, Crime and more Unemployment for communities around Wales Estate”, “APNU and AFC are betraying sugar workers” among others.
It was noted that a demonstration culminating at the Patentia Tarmac for a Public Meeting is also scheduled.
"The intention by the Corporation and political authorities to shut down Wales has set in motion justifiable anxiety. Of the wider workforce who are increasingly asking: What next? Who’s next? This unconscionable blow from the authorities has only fed the alienation within the industry and will, most likely, de-motivate this sector of our productive workforce," the release stated.
GAWU noted that some 2,500 workers and farmers would be directly affected by the Wales Estate closure.
"Additionally, it is distressing to contemplate the hardship that will befall the families of those who will join the jobless. We can only begin to imagine the effects of the economic dislocation that will ensue and the repercussions it would have on the communities of the West Bank of Demerara, especially," the statement read.
The union said that the intransigence, so far, displayed by the authorities is a cause for concern for workers not only in the sugar industry but workers generally.
When considered against the unjust treatment meted out to the sugar workers over the latter part of 2015, and ignoring essential practices of Trade Unionism, the situation is indeed troubling, GAWU noted.
"GAWU and NAACIE urges the Government and GuySuCo not to go down the path of closure of the Wales Estate. We are sure that is it not beyond available expertise to come up with proposals to save Wales and once more, ensure its viability. We subscribe to the belief that people and their well-being must be given priority attention."