Without the hint of warning, 60 workers who were mainly engaged in providing security as well as other labouring tasks at the Wales Sugar Estate, West Bank Demerara (WBD), were fired by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments (NICIL).
This is according to the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) which on Monday (today) stated in a press release that the sudden termination by the State-owned holding company dumbfounded the workers who were completely unprepared for the bombshell announcement.
“The workers, during last year, had approached the GAWU to speak on their behalf. The Union on November 06, 2020 applied to the Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board (TURCB) seeking to be recognised as their bargaining agent. Following receipt of our application, the TURCB approved the conduct of a survey, in keeping with the Trade Union Recognition Act.”
According to the Union, the survey sought to determine whether the GAWU enjoyed the workers support, however, attempts to commence the survey were short-circuited by the NICIL which, on two (2) occasions, did not turn up for meetings organized by the TURCB to commence the process.
“Subsequently, NICIL, by letter of December 11, 2020, wrote the TURCB seeking to commence the process, strikingly, on December 31, 2020. The Board, having considered the letter, had acquiesced to the request. But as hindsight has now revealed, it appeared, that the letter was, seemingly, a deliberate ploy to thwart the workers attempt to secure a union of their choice.”
The GAWU pointed out that the actions of NICIL brings back painful memories for the Union which faced similar challenges as it confronted the “plantocracy” in seeking recognition on behalf of the field and factory workers in the sugar industry.
“It is unbelievable, for us that in this 21stcentury workers must still face such travails to secure union recognition. Worse yet such actions are initiated by a company that is owned by the State.”
HGP Nightly News understands that earlier on Monday (this) morning the Union wrote the Chairman of the TURCB, Dr. Nanda K. Gopaul, to apprise him of the above-mentioned developments.
In the correspondence, the GAWU explained that the actions of the NICIL are in “grave contravention” of the Trade Union Recognition Act and that the Act has identified such conduct as “criminal”.
“…and we sought the Board’s immediate intervention to apprehend the matter and ensure that the workers rights are upheld. The Union finds the actions of NICIL to be deeply disturbing. For the workers, given the depression that has gripped Wales since the estate was closed at the end of 2016, it represented a cherished source of sustenance.”