Save Wales Sugar Estate
Save Wales Sugar Estate
Sugar has always formed the backbone of the Guyanese economy. In previous times when the industry was hugely profitable and today when the sugar industry faces financial hurdles, it has always been the sugar workers, in the fields and in the factories, who made the wheels of industry turn.
In January of 2016, the APNU-AFC gov’t of Guyana announced (through a press release!) their plans to close the Wales Sugar Estate by October of 2016. There can be no doubt that Guyana’s sugar industry is in a crisis, however, the unilateral decision taken by President David Granger and Agriculture minister Noel Harding to close the Wales Sugar Estate seeks to address the financial crisis of the sugar industry by balancing the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s budget on the back of the workers.
The proposed closure of the Wales Sugar Estate is especially troubling since the report of the Commission of Inquiry on the sugar industry did not recommend the closure of any of the existing sugar estates. Even more troubling is the fact that the Gov’t plans to “consolidate” operations at the Le Bonne Intention (LBI) Estate.
What is at stake in the proposed closure of the Wales Estate and the consolidation of the LBI Estate?
- Consolidating operations at the LBI Estate would put the jobs of 850 workers at risk
- Closure of the Wales Estate would put 1700 workers out of work
- Economic crises in the surrounding communities which depend on the estate and the wages of the sugar workers for survival
- Opening the door to further closures of the sugar estates and job losses
- Opening the door to attacks on workers in other industries
The sugar industry is the largest single employer in Guyana and the main driver of its GDP. These proposed cuts to the industry threaten its overall well-being and will put the entire industry at risk and with it workers’ livelihoods and the survival of surrounding communities.
As a resident said years ago:
"When the factory is not working the place is empty. When the estate grind the place is bright,” ... “The community is affected a lot when sugar is slow.”
Guyanese of all racial backgrounds and political views, at home and abroad, as well as our allies in the Caribbean and the larger international community stand in solidarity with the sugar workers and their unions to demand that President David Granger, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder and GuySuCo board of directors:
- Stop the closure of the Wales Sugar Estate!
- Stop the consolidation of operations at the LBI Estate!
- Reinstate all laid-off workers from Wales and LBI!
- Good faith negotiations with the GAWU and NAACIE unions
- No to privatization of the sugar industry!
The struggle of the sugar workers is emblematic of the struggle of all Guyanese working people. All labor unions in Guyana must support the sugar workers’ struggles! Save the Wales Estate! Stop the layoffs! Victory to the sugar workers!