GuySuCo and workers union reach agreement on Albion cane cutters impasse

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A meeting between officials of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers
Union (GAWU) and the shop stewards and workers of the cane cutting gangs of
Albion Estate with head office and estate officials of the Guyana Sugar
Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) today (Sunday, September 19, 2021) through
negotiation and discussion resulted in an agreement being reached.

During today’s meeting, the Union pointed out that the situation at Albion
Estate was unusual. The GAWU noted that the extended inundation of the
estate during the recent rainy period severely stressed the canes and
reduced their weights. Cane cutters are piece-rated workers and are paid
based on the tonnes of canes harvested. That weight is known when cane punts
are weighted at the factory. GAWU’s President, Seepaul Narine who led the
Union’s delegation, drew to GuySuCo’s attention the earnings of workers. He
pointed out that though the workers were completing their daily tasks, their
earnings were well below what is usual.

The Union articulated that a worker’s task is assigned by the Management
with the expectation that certain tonnes of canes would be harvested from
the assigned area. GAWU contended that the fact workers were earnings were
below their normal level though they were completing their assigned tasks
was because of light canes. The Union shared that the workers were
responsibly completing their tasks but for their best efforts their earnings
were curtailed. GAWU reminded the GuySuCo’s team that, in the past, the
Corporation had compensated workers whenever their tasks were completed but
their cane weights were not attained. From that point of view, the Union
urged the GuySuCo to revert to known and established practices.

The GuySuCo, through its CEO, Sasenarine Singh, acknowledged that the
situation at Albion was unusual. He acknowledged the workers concerns as he
noted that it required the cooperation of all stakeholders to ensure that
production is maximised and the estate is able to recover from the serious
setback arising from the floods. The GuySuCo CEO indicated that the
Corporation wanted to work together with the workers and the Union noting
their critical role in reversing the fortunes of the Corporation.

Having heard from the GAWU, the GuySuCo proposed that for this crop only at
Albion, recognizing the unique situation, the workers would be compensated
for difference between their usual productivity per punt and the actual
canes cut and loaded or cut and stacked. To receive the compensation, the
workers would have to complete their tasks assigned. The agreement also
places a limitation on the task assigned to workers in keeping with
long-standing practices.

GAWU’s President, Seepaul Narine shared that the Union was heartened that
the Corporation listened carefully and considered the concerns of the
workers and the Union and that an agreement could be reached. He said this
augurs well for worker/management relations and is hopeful for further
improvement in the GAWU/GuySuCo relations. The Corporation’s CEO, Sasenarine
Singh also expressed the Corporation’s appreciation to the workers and the
Union. He shared that it was heartening that the Union and the Company could
sit down and discuss matters in a mature manner. He indicated that the
Corporation looks forward to working with the Union and strengthening the
relations between the parties.

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