first_img…call for wage increasesHundreds of sugar workers employed at the Albion Sugar Estate, Berbice, downed their tools since Thursday as they call for a pay increase.This action has severely affected operations at the sugar estate, and those who are on strike action are calling on the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to address the matter before they resume duties.According to the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU), since 2015, the wages of sugar workers have been “frozen” and there has been no increase allotted to those workers for the past four years.In a statement to the media on Friday, GAWU said that “the naked discrimination against this hardworking group of the State’s employees manifested through denials of pay increases and attacks on other longstanding benefits and conditions coupled with an ever-rising tax burden, among the other hardships of contemporary Guyanese life, have severely eroded the workers and their families purchasing power and by extension, their standard of living”.The Union argued that the protesting workers at the Albion Sugar Estate are “peeved over the arbitrary hiking” of the Estate’s weekly production targets, as they contended that the increase in the Estate’s targets from 2,100 tonnes of sugar to 2,140 would be disadvantageous.As such, it will prevent the Estate from reaching the target and, thereby, affect incentives arising on the attainment of the target.“The workers argue, quite correctly, that the inability to achieve target through the arbitrary increase could well daunt their commitment and belie the notion of the incentive in the first place. Additionally, workers engaged in the mechanical loading of canes are upset regarding what they believe is an unnecessary change in their hours of work”.According to the GAWU, another issues is that the “bell loader operators” would usually commence duties daily from 06:00h and cease work at 18:00h during the cropping period. However, GuySuCo now requires these workers to work from 10:00h to 22:00h.Another issue, the Union said, regards the workers engaged in the mechanical tillage tasks, who have rightly disagreed with the arbitrary downward adjustments of their pay rates pertaining to certain tasks. The Union is awaiting a meeting with the Industrial Relations Department of GuySuCo to address the matter.In light of the series of complaints by the sugar workers, GAWU is urging GuySuCo to address the matters as soon as possible. According to the Union, only then will the workers resume their duties.The Skeldon, Rose Hall and East Coast Demerara (Enmore) estates were closed in December 2017, leaving thousands of workers jobless. The Wales Sugar Estate was the first to shut down in 2016. Only three estates are currently in operation – Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt.Some of the protesting workerslast_img