“Govt needed to make some hard decisions” – Minister Ramjattan to retrenched Enmore sugar workers
DPI, Guyana, Friday, January 26, 2018
The Government, in a show of its strong commitment to sugar workers affected by the rightsizing of the industry and understanding the reality of the situation, today, met with retrenched workers of the Enmore Estate.
The team of ministers included Minister of Public Security Khemraj Ramjattan, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Cathy Hughes, Minister of Citizenship, Winston Felix and Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes.
Addressing the sugar workers, Minister Ramjattan explained that the government had to make some “hard” decisions, not only for the country’s interest but for the hardworking workers of the industry.
“We then indicated that we had to make certain big decisions, rightsizing is where we were thinking. And we indicated that we had to get a group of experts, the group of experts went and did all their studies and indicated a set of recommendations to us. What we are now implementing is the set of recommendations…. to save the industry, to consolidate it, not to close it down”.
According to Minister Ramjattan, global market forces resulted in significant decline in the need for sugar on the world market. As a result, it became strenuous for the Government to continue providing subsidies to the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
“That kind of global situation is changing rapidly as a result of either you are having a substitute for sugar or you are having a consumption pattern that is not altogether as great as it used to be,” he told the sugar workers.
He said that it was only a matter of time for the sugar industry to be rightsized as Guyana was already forewarned decades ago. Nevertheless, he assured that the interest of the sugar workers will remain a top priority of the Government.
Minister of Business, Dominic Gaskin made a strong statement reiterating Government’s stance, restating the need for the workers, who played and continue to play a major role in the advancement of the economy.
“It is not the fault of the workers that GuySuCo has found itself in trouble, bad decisions, bad investments, bad leadership and bad management has brought GuySuCo to where it is today,” he told the crowd, continuing that the decline did not just begin. He said it was sad that the workers have to be facing the brunt of the negligence.”
Minister Gaskin pointed out that those responsible for the decline in the sugar industry are now providing advice on what could have been done to save the industry.
The Government had called on the Opposition and other stakeholders to put their suggestions forward so that a collective decision could be derived from the consultative process, however, these efforts proved futile.
Delivering a passionate presentation, Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes, spoke of her own commitment to sugar workers and every citizen of Guyana.
“I understand the frustration, I understand to whom I speak to today, but I want to tell you that all of us, we all pledge to serve you all.”
She reminded of her very first visit to the Enmore factory back in 2015, and how she was taken aback by the conditions under which many workers had to carry out their functions.
Meanwhile, Minister of Citizenship Winston Felix said there will be opportunities in the future as the government is working through the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), accepting expressions of interests from agencies around the world.
The sugar workers were assured that they will begin receiving their severance payments on Monday, January 29. For workers who are owed $500,000 or less, they will receive 100 percent of their severance. For those who are required to be paid over that amount, they will receive 50 percent on the said date.
By: Alexis Rodney
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