Maybe it’s the truth, as expressed by our slogans 
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– that hurt GuySuCo

Dear Editor,

OUR Unions, the GAWU and the NAACIE, have seen a letter penned by GuySuCo which appeared in the November1, 2019 edition of the Kaieteur News. We saw too, some sections of the letter appearing in a report published in the November 2, 2019 edition of the Stabroek News.

The GuySuCo begins its letter, charging that our Unions were engaged in insincere representations. While the Corporation failed to really qualify what it meant, it appeared that the GuySuCo, rather than acknowledging our expressions, has apparently decided to treat them insincerely and possibly with contempt and derision. This is saddening, if true, and speaks to the esteem in which the Corporation holds its workers. It appears that the GuySuCo prefers us to meekly stand at the sidelines while the workers are disadvantaged and pushed into poverty. Just recently, the Corporation criticised the GAWU for supporting workers during a protest action at Blairmont Estate, though the workers stood on most principled grounds.

We hasten to add that the GuySuCo workforce is not confined to the field, factory and offices, but extends to the managerial cadre as well. As we told the Corporation officials at our truncated October 29 engagement, the expressions we shared were also being whispered in closed quarters by the managerial personnel. They, like their non-managerial colleagues, are hard-pressed at this time, as they, too, are being crushed by the heavy increased costs of living. Several managerial personnel told us that they were supportive of the recent petition of the sugar workers, which was addressed to President David Granger. Some even wished they could have appended their signatures, but were obviously reluctant to do so, given their position in the Corporation, and the real threats to their jobs.

The GuySuCo says that our expressions could not have been displayed “…within the Corporation’s premises”. What the Corporation refrained from saying is that it ranted, sometimes in an intimidating manner, that the meeting was being held on private property, and our Unions were almost demanded that we should put away our expressions. Our Unions pointed out then, and strongly hold, that GuySuCo is State-owned and thus we were on the Guyanese people’s and not any private property. Moreover, as far as we know, our right to Freedom of Expression did not stop at the Corporation’s gate or doorway. Certainly, the rights and freedoms we enjoy, and which were won out of struggle, must apply at all times.

The State-owned company contends that our expressions saw the engagement “…being held under duress…” We hasten to wonder how this is so. Duress, we should remind the GuySuCo, regards a situation whereby there is compulsion, coercion, or pressure to do something. Our Unions cannot see how the displaying of slogans to the GuySuCo qualifies as duress. In fact, at no time, did anyone from the Unions utter a word. We were not disruptive or disrespectful as we displayed our slogans. We remained in our seats listening attentively to presentations. To charge our Unions, unwittingly, is misguided and clearly an impertinent reaction. 

The sugar company said that it “…was not given the opportunity to share essential information with the Unions and their delegations as it intended on the Corporation’s production, financials, marketing outlook, perspectives and plans towards growth and sustainability of the Industry”. While the Corporation says this, it, so far, has not released certain information that has been requested of it, though it received our request over a month ago. The data requested is not unusual, and has previously been shared with the Unions. We are at a loss to understand the seeming denial, and it appears that the information sought maybe eye-opening. Nevertheless, our Unions did not prevent or obstruct the Corporation from sharing the information it was intent on disclosing.

Maybe it is the truth, as expressed by our slogans, that hurt the GuySuCo, a truth they could not withstand.

Yours faithfully,
Seepaul Narine
General Secretary – GAWU

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