“Consult us – Don’t compel us” – Blairmont workers tell GuySuCo
…protest company’s alleged ‘dictatorial attitude’Workers of the Blairmont Estate in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) on Monday protested against the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) to demonstrate their resolute disagreement regarding the demands that were made before their wages were paid through the bank.Persons picketing the sugar estate on MondayWhile standing outside the estate, the workers called for GuySuCo to pay them at its offices while indicating that they should be consulted and not dictated to.The workers called for their rights to be respected, holding placards that stated “Consult us – Don’t compel us”.During the peaceful protest, many persons indicated that utilising the banking system would result in charges being laid along with transportation costs every week to transact withdrawals from their bank account.These costs, they said, are presented against the present wage freeze imposed upon the sugar industry since 2015. They are now made to pay Value Added Tax (VAT) on electricity, water and goods that were previously exempt which contributes to increased expenses.Added to these, timely payment of wages on a weekly basis is also another factor which they sought to address since their salaries are delayed on a regular basis.The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) stated, “The protesting workers shared, at this time, they are being threatened and coerced into agreeing to have their wages sent to the bank. They pointed out that should they request a job letter or seek the estate’s assistance with regard to NIS claims, for instance, they are told such assistance would be withheld until they agree to have their wages payable through the bank. This is most disturbing and can be seen as tantamount to blackmail while adding to hardships they today face.”GAWU indicated that the Corporation’s actions opposed that of the Labour Act which requires that wages be paid in money. This is in relation to Section 19 (1), and the Union further highlighted Section 19 (4), which states that it is mandatory that employers must provide wages at locations which are convenient to the employees.“The GAWU stands with the workers and the pensioners, and calls on the Corporation to do what is right and decent and to pay the workers at their regular pay offices as they have been doing for a long time now,” the Union said.