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Over 160 Uitvlugt sugar workers down tools

first_img…not paid salaries since Friday; could be paid todayGrinding for the current crop of sugar cane at the Uitvlugt Estate was on Monday affected following collective industrial action by one of the two gangs at the entity. According to reports Guyana Times received, sugar workers of the 162-strong De Kindren (DK) gang downed tools when they first appeared for duty at the lone Demerara Estate during the morning session.The Uitvlugt Estate, West Coast DemeraraA Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) official disclosed that the workers were disgruntled over their working conditions and demanded improvement. It was not outlined if their action was linked to the fact that their employer has not paid them their weekly wages since Friday last as carried by this newspaper on Sunday.However, Guyana Times understands that managers and union representatives are expected to meet with Uitvlugt workers this morning to settle the prevailing issues.It is expected that if the industrial action continues today, the smaller of the gangs will work in the place of their colleagues as they reportedly indicated willingness to carry out duties. It was further explained that 45 punts of canes were already obtained but an individual familiar with the ongoing situation noted that this amount was not enough to keep the mill running. This publication attempted to contact Estate Manager Yudhisthira Mana for clarity on these issues but calls to the mobile number were unsuccessful.Workers to be paid salariesMeanwhile, on the issue of weekly payments, workers across Demerara and Berbice entered a fourth day without receiving their wages. This publication was however informed that GuySuCo has moved to acquire the required funds and all workers should be paid by today.It was on Sunday that the financial state of GuySuCo was disclosed in that there was not enough funds to pay thousands of workers their salaries for the week ending September 14, 2018.Since then, GuySuCo employees, many of whom live pay cheque to pay cheque, have been left wondering when they will be able to provide for their families. There are two fully functioning Berbice Estates at Albion and Blairmont.On Saturday, Guyana Times made several attempts to get official word from GuySuCo’s Finance Director Paul Bhim on when workers would have been paid their salaries but all telephone calls to him were unanswered. On Monday, calls to his telephone number rang out again. Additionally, calls to the Sugar Corporation’s head office were also unsuccessful.GuySuCo has been undertaking several austerity measures to alleviate its cash-strapped status. This began with the closure of Wales in December 2016 which had sent shockwaves throughout the sugar belt. The Rose Hall Estate in Berbice and the East Demerara (Enmore) Estate shuttered in December 2017 with workers at Skeldon were similarly terminated.According to disclosed numbers, 1851 workers were terminated from Skeldon while 1181 Rose Hall Estate workers were fired. There were also 1480 from the East Demerara Sugar Estate losing employment under the cost-cutting decisions. However, a small percentage of these workers were rehired under the Special Purposes Unit (SPU) as that entity kept the Estates running in a bid to secure private investors.President David Granger just last week said his Administration has been forced to pump billions of Guyana dollars into bailouts for the sugar industry. Some $609 million was paid out to terminated Skeldon workers, while $705 million to Rose Hall workers, $815 million to East Demerara workers, and $150 million to the Wales. Nevertheless, many former sugar workers have steadily complained of encountering much difficulty with finding consistent work. In fact, many stakeholders felt Government should have first conducted social impact studies before opting to close estates.last_img read more