PM leads high-level delegation in sugar belt.
Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo will today lead a high-level delegation to the sugar belt in Berbice as government continues to help transition laid-off workers
The Prime Minister during his visit will hold meetings in Skeldon and Canje and is expected to address issues such as: severance pay for sugar workers; job opportunities and the future of the industry. The meetings are billed for 10:am and 2PM respectively.
Also today another headed by Public Security Minister, Khemraj Ramjattan will meet with residents of Enmore. Ministers; Cathy Hughes, Simona Broomes and Winston Felix will join Ramjattan during this visit.
Government and the sugar unions last Friday agreed to work together to resolve the issues within the industry and President David Granger urged all stakeholders to put aside all prejudices and partisan interests for the national good. President Granger and some senior members of his cabinet, including Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, met the President and members of the GAWU and the NAACIE to discuss the future of the sugar industry. The meeting lasted approximately two hours and the stakeholders were able to find common ground.
In a statement the Ministry of the Presidency said the unions agreed to cooperate fully with government to find a solution that would benefit all stakeholders. In his address to representatives of the unions, President Granger said Friday’s meeting represented the start of talks between the sides, so that consensus can be reached soonest on the way forward. “This is a national matter. It is not a partisan one. It involves human beings, households and families. We are conscious of the foresighted nature and we cannot ignore the context of the issue that we face. We cannot continue something that is not competitive. We are bailing out the industry at $1B per month and that is simply not sustainable.”
President Granger added: “If workers have to go home then we all lose, as it will have an impact on the economic growth of the country. Government will not win, the unions will not win and the workers will not win if the industry is crippled. We will all lose. Nobody is against the sugar industry. The government and the unions should engage until the issue is resolved. Let us use this opportunity to show flexibility and ensure that livelihoods are saved,” the President was quoted as saying.
President of GAWU, Komal Chand, expressed much satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting, and noted that the union is now committed to working with the administration to draft feasible solutions. “We have listened and we are satisfied that you are concerned with the issues. We are ready to work along with the government to explore the options and we are going to give our best to see the situation out. You are right that there are no winners in this and we are willing… We are certainly pleased with this meeting.
This is the first meeting [for the year] we have been able to have with the government and we believe that the meeting took place in a positive atmosphere and we recognise that the government itself pays attention and I think that it is a good beginning,” said Chand, a veteran trade unionist and politician. GAWU’s President said it is important that stakeholders are engaged and are seeking positive solutions.