Opposition being deceitful – VP blasts Ramjattan for misleading sugar workers

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo has highlighted the deceitful nature of the previous government, especially with regard to its treatment of Guyana’s sugar workers.

The VP was at the time addressing the protest action by some field workers attached to the Blairmont and Albion Sugar Estates who are demanding severance pay from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO).

Vice President, Dr Bharrat Jagdeo

Opposition Member of Parliament, Khemraj Ramjattan, who was present at the protest, contended that the government is reluctant to engage with sugar workers on this issue, alleging that there is an ‘ethnic pattern’ at play.

But Dr Jagdeo made it clear that this is not the case.

“Ramjattan is saying that we loaded up the sugar workers with the money. If you go to the Hansards of Parliament, every attempt to help sugar workers has been opposed by the coalition and they have opposed any funding to sustain the industry. They have voted in almost every instance against funding. Their argument, including Ramjattan’s argument, is that the sugar industry is a black hole,” he explained. 

The vice president clarified that the money being referred to was an additional $1.7 billion, out of which each severed sugar worker received $250, 000 as a form of support.  

On the other hand, the opposition justified the laying off of the sugar workers while in government, only to twist the story while in opposition, claiming that the current government does not have the best interests of the sugar workers at heart.

“They closed some estates, and then they told the managers that there would be no capital investments in the other estates, so eventually, all the estates would have been closed. They were the ones who promised, in 2015, that there would be no closure,” VP Jagdeo relayed.

He reminded that the previous administration also sold the assets at the Wales Sugar Estate and refused to pay severance to the workers.

“We had to go to court, we were part of the protest in front of parliament to get the sugar workers their severance because they were severed,” Dr Jagdeo added.

He said the protesting workers that Ramjattan claimed did not receive compensation packages were not eligible for severance, as these persons were not terminated as the others were.

“They did not get the severance, because they were not severed. APNU transferred them to Blairmont and Albion. So there were no issues of paying severance, because they were not severed. And APNU refused to pay severance to those who lost their job. What we gave was 250, 000 to all the workers who were severed, because the severance was a pittance. So, it wasn’t compensation, but it was meant to add to their severance,” the vice president said.