Arson cripples Wales Estate- workers sent home
August 26, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under News
Over 180 punts of cane were destroyed by arson as protests over inadequate remuneration in the sugar belt spilled over to West Demerara, crippling the Wales Estate.
The cane was reportedly set alight on Monday afternoon and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), stands to suffer untold losses as the final crop of the year undergoes a torrid beginning.
Kaieteur News understands that several persons were seen by the GuySuCo security personnel shortly before the fire completely engulfed five fields of sugar cane.
The destruction of the cane came in the midst of a stifling strike by cane cutters, and this has forced the estate to completely shut down its entire operation.
According to a source, all the field and factory workers have been sent home until further notice and the only workers remaining on the estate are the security personnel, medical and some clerical employees who are responsible for preparing payments.
The source pointed out that should the cane cutters not return to work soon, more staff will have to be sent home.
“The estate is already in a very bad shape and the demands being made by the cane cutters is really taking a toll,” the source said
Kaieteur News understands that a meeting between the union representing the striking cane cutters, the Guyana Agricultural & General Workers Union (GAWU) and the management of the GuySuCo Wales Estate was held on Monday and it was agreed that work will resume after the sugar estate adjusted from its initial position.
However, yesterday none of the cane cutters turned up.
“Most of the workers sent home yesterday are members of GAWU, and they too will feel the effects of the stance taken by their cane cutter colleagues. The sugar estate cannot sustain those people who are not on strike,” the source told Kaieteur News.
This newspaper understands that the happenings at the Wales Estate have not been highlighted, since strikes have been occurring on and off since the start of the crop.
The cane cutters are claiming that a higher wage should be paid since the fields are full of obstacles (weeds, etc.), and have to be cleared in addition to the manual harvesting of the sugar cane.
The present situation at the Wales Estate appears worse than the out-of-crop season, when most of the workers are laid off.
According to a senior GuySuCo official, soon the estate will have to remove all of its equipment from the fields, and this could signal the possible closing of the estate.