Transitioning process for redundancy sugar workers begins – Business, Financial and Investment meeting held
DPI, GUYANA, Monday, January 29, 2018
Scores of former GuySuCo employees and stakeholders turned out to the Business, Financial, and Investment forum and clinics today at the Enmore Community Center Grounds. The meeting dealt with the transitioning process for workers affected by the redundancy.
Chaired by Audreyanna Thomas, Corporate Communications Manager at GuySuCo, the forum began with a presentation on the Sustainable Communities Program by Curbette Victorine, Manager of East Demerara Estate. Victorine stated that with the Skeldon, Rose Hall, East Demerara, and Wales Estates no longer operational and being prepared for divestment and diversification, the program was developed to counteract the vulnerabilities of the ex-workers and susceptible economic challenges.
He acknowledged that the estates function as an important economic base for the communities and intervention was necessary.
“The sugar estates have become a very important economic base for the communities in which they existed, as a result of that GuySuCo understood that this restructuring would have come with some economic shake up and that an intervention was necessary.”
The Sustainable Communities Program is designed as a three-pronged effort which involves an economic-resilient, a social-resilient, and an environment-resilient component. Today’s forum concentrated on the economic-resilient component which seeks to establish a sustainable communities fund to be managed by the Ministry of Business, Small Business Bureau. The fund will ultimately enable re-skilling of ex-employees and the provision of financial and technical support for start-up and scaling-up businesses.
The Estate Manager added that there has been a partnership with several ministries and agencies and the Small Business Bureau has assisted greatly in the training of several of persons (in December 2017) from the Wales and East Demerara estates, in catering and sewing. Thus far, several persons who have benefited from the training have gone on to become entrepreneurs with ongoing businesses. According, Victorine another 60 persons from Wales and East Demerara Estates are slated for training in masonry, carpentry, and plumbing, which would be conducted by Guyana Industrial Training Centre (GITC)
“The Guyana Sugar Cooperation continues to operate in Uitvlugt, Albion, and Blairmont, we are encouraging employees of the other estates to form themselves into contractual groups, and whenever it is required they can be hired at those estates that are ongoing,” remarked Victorine
Pertaining to the social-resilience aspect, Victorine said they have partnered with the Ministry of Public Health to address the psychosocial impacts of the redundancy. Health and Safety officers have been enrolled in the Mental Health Wellness program in order to be better equipped to diagnose, treat and counsel the affected workers.
He also noted that with reference to environmental resilience, drainage and irrigation remains an area where a need exists; this shortfall will be addressed through a partnership with the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA). GuySuCo will continue to provide all related activities in relation to drainage and irrigation in the estate areas.
The forum continued with Eddie Boyer, Chairman of the Private Sector Commission, who disclosed the commission will host a job fair on the January 31.
“We speak for a large working population and if we are to expand that with the workers who would be deployed from the estates, we have to make sure the semi-skilled and skilled are picked up, I, therefore, want to tell you that on the 31st of January we will be having a job fair with over 20 companies,” Boyer noted.
Dr. Lowell Porter, Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Bureau, spoke of their responsibility to the people of Guyana in fulfilling their mandate. He relayed that the Small Business Bureau is available to help persons meet their desires of becoming small business owners or expanding their businesses, and is trying to make it easier to access the $100m available. The Bureau is also in negotiations with funding agencies for 75% collateral guarantee. Correspondingly, bank approved loans will not carry more than 6% interest. However, Demerara Bank and similarly other banks have proposed to offer the sugar workers a special account with an interest rate of the 2.10 percent.
Dr. Porter’s presentation was followed by other presentations by Ramesh Dookhoo an Executive Member for the Private Sector Commission, Demerara Mutual, Stock Exchange, Georgetown Chamber of Commerce, IPED and the Ministry of Business Small Business Bureau.
By: Stephon Gabriel
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