AT THE commencement of the session which was chaired by the Hon. Catherine Hughes – Minister of Public Telecommunications, there were about four male characters sitting in the front row grumbling among themselves. Several times the minister had to appeal for order because of the behaviour of those very four. The Madam Sessional Chairlady indicated that the format the activity will take was as follows, an address by the Hon. Noel Holder – Minister of Agriculture, followed by Remarks from Hon. Khemraj Ramjattan – Minister of Public Security, after which sugar workers will ask questions, seek clarity and amicable decisions will be made.
The four gentlemen continued to be disruptive, but not at a level that warranted police intervention. The Hon. Noel Holder addressed the gathering. At the conclusion of Minister Holder’s address the four men began to inquire about their severance pay. Minister Cathy Hughes neatly called for order and asked that Minister Ramjattan speak after which questions from the workers would be facilitated. The four men were not willing to settle for that and began to be loud and disorderly, seeking answers about their severance pay. Minister Ramjattan explained the legal ramifications that are currently present within the situation given that GAWU took GUYSUCO to court over the said matter. As hard as the minister tried to explain, the louder and more disorderly were the four men, asking questions relating to the said issue (severance pay). At no point did any minister refuse to answer queries raised by the four men, but their queries were addressed by the Ministers in a calm, cool and collective manner.
After about close to an hour of continuous back and forth over severance pay (which is currently engaging the court of Guyana with the minister saying that the court’s decision will be honoured), another sugar worker then requested that we move on because of the importance of time and given the fact that divestment and diversification are yet to be discussed. She further stated that there are more than four people present and order needs to prevail if we are to get anywhere. She went on to recommend that should order and peace not prevail then the police should be called in to do their job. At this juncture the four men got up and hastily left the meeting. Roughly about 15 persons followed them, whilst the majority remained. Order was restored and the meeting continued peacefully. It must be mentioned that from the four who were disrupting the meeting, two came back in and sat peacefully throughout the meeting and at the end of it all were seen embracing Hon. Minister Harmon.
During the closing remarks, sugar workers acknowledged by clapping, indicating that the session was indeed fruitful and informative. Editor, it is my belief that the four gentlemen attended the session with a clear motive. I am extremely happy that the majority who attended did not fall prey to their actions.