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– Union vows to continue “struggle” for better conditions GAWU officials and sugar workers picketing the Ministry of Finance, Main Street, yesterday.Following a 3% salary increase awarded to sugar workers earlier this week by a government-ordered Arbitration Tribunal, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) picketed the Ministry of Finance and vowed to continue the “struggle”.Stressing that the exercise is not to protest the award – which is legally binding – GAWU President, Komal Chand, yesterday said that it was part of a “struggle” that the union will be engaged in to ensure workers are treated fairly.  Yesterday, a team from GAWU which was involved in the negotiations for the wage/salary increase met and it was decided to “commence a struggle”.According to Chand, the “struggle” will be for better pay and benefits; the payment of Annual Production Incentives (API); the implementation of the new pay rates and last, but by no means least, respect from the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).The union official again stressed that the increase was a mere “pittance” and to add insult to injury,Cheap NFL Jerseys, the Arbitration Tribunal has given GuySuCo until March to give workers their retroactive salary.So far,Cheap NFL Jerseys China, since the award was announced on Tuesday,NFL Jerseys China, the union President said, GuySuCo has not made contact. “They ought to have spoken to us about when they hope to pay the new rates. Even though, the retroactive pay could be held back, we want to know.”“We will be holding a General Council meeting to discuss the award and other issues.”Earlier yesterday, the union in a press statement had indicated same.GAWU, the largest sugar workers’ union in the country, was harsh in its statement yesterday on GuySuCo.GAWU said that it is, along with the thousands of sugar workers it represents, “sadly disappointed at the award by the Gobind Ganga Arbitration Tribunal. The Tribunal,Cheap Jerseys USA, at a hurriedly summoned meeting on (Tuesday) 8th December, 2009, presented the report of the Tribunal to GAWU and GuySuCo…”The report recommended an across-the-board increase of 3 per cent for 2009, which should be paid no later than the end of March 2010.“Indeed,Jerseys NFL Wholesale, sad days are ahead for the thousands of toiling,Authentic NFL Jerseys China, productive sugar workers. The government-appointed Tribunal undoubtedly, in executing its special mandate, ignominiously transferred and embraced the three (3) per cent offer proposed by the GuySuCo originally.”GAWU, in its statement, sees this as an injustice of the highest order. “To add insult to injury to the poor sugar workers, the sugar bosses have been given until 31st March, 2010 to pay the pittance.”GAWU said that according to a source, public servants would be paid a five (5) per cent increase, retroactive to 1st January, 2009, and which “is currently being computed or has been computed awaiting the official announcement by the Government”.“Certainly the public servants deserve greater than five (5) per cent vis-à-vis the cost of living and the lowness of the wages and salaries of those at the bottom. Our solidarity is with them.”GAWU was of the opinion that “those who manage and those who give directions to the management of the sugar industry are poised to carry out more onslaughts on the workers. We understand that a “Specialist” who now manages the sugar industry intends to give workers no Annual Production Incentive (API) for 2009.”The union pointed out that even in the worst days of sugar production in 1990’s when production was a lowly 129,920 tonnes, five (5) days’ pay were awarded as Annual Production Incentive (API).“To cover up for management’s failure, the ground is being prepared for blame to fall on the union and the workers. GAWU condemns these acts of deception and provocation by the GuySuCo management.”GAWU had demanded 10 per cent, down from an original 15 per cent earlier this year, but GuySuCo had remained steadfast on its three per cent offer. In making its recommendations, the Tribunal said that it found that GuySuCo is “in a precarious financial situation with declining receipts from lower output and EU price cuts as well as an inability to borrow from the local banking system.”The Tribunal believed that the welfare of the employees depends on the viability of the Corporation and the latter should not be unduly burdened given its current financial situation of almost $13B indebtedness and the need to acquire resources (both capital and labour for the successful implementation of the turnaround plan).On October 29, wages/salaries talks between GuySuCo and GAWU was declared deadlocked after the union demands for a 10% increase was rebuffed by the Corporation, which said it could ill-afford. The Corporation countered with 3%.Minister of Labour, Manzoor Nadir, had ordered compulsory arbitration and appointed Bank of Guyana’s Dr. Gobind Ganga as Chairman while Yog Mahadeo (Chief Financial Officer of GT&T) was the union’s representative on the panel. Former Permanent Secretary of the Health Ministry, Sonya Roopnauth, was representing GuySuCo. Secretary to the panel was Deputy Chief Labour Officer, Clive Nurse.“The Tribunal finds that the current expenditure is relatively high when compared to output and receipts after accounting for the high fuel and fertilizer price increases in 2007 and 2008. It is the considered view of the Tribunal that the Corporation is not receiving value for its expenditure, notwithstanding the higher input cost and adverse weather conditions,” the panel found.The Tribunal said that it believes a high level of inefficiency in the Corporation can explain a large part of this, which is a consequence of poor governance.“A conservative estimate by the Tribunal is that this is costing GuySuCo in excess of $3B annually.”The report said that although the Corporation is cash-strapped with accumulated debts of $13B by the end of this year, there is still the possibility of steering it to a path of recovery for it to become a viable and sustainable industry in the future.“This depends heavily on effective implementation of the Turnaround Plan for the period 2009-2013 which is the result of an intense work programme aimed to guide the industry on a path of prosperity.”
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