18 Jan

Like pulling teeth…

first_img…Sugar workers severanceThe dictionary informs us that the word “severance” means “a division by cutting or slicing”. It connotes a sudden, violent dismemberment – as in “his hand was completely severed by the chop from his assailant’s cutlass”. When workers were fired – or “severed” – from a company, after years of struggle, compensation was won for their years of service, etc, and became known as “severance pay”.Now you’d think with the abruptness of the “cutting” of the worker when he’s fired – immediately! – the severance payment would also be just as quick, wouldn’t you? In more amiable jurisdictions, the severance pay became known as a “golden handshake”, or “golden parachute” to signify the employers’ desire for the separation to be as painless as possible.But in Guyana, the way the Government has treated the almost 5000 sugar workers they severed from GuySuCo’s workforce, you can only conclude they wanted to make the payment as painful as possible. It was more like cutting a limb off with a dull saw, with the workers strapped to a chair. It was “torture pay”. For some workers at Wales, they weren’t even OFFERED severance pay! Instead, they were told they should travel 22 miles to Uitvlugt and cut cane there – violating their labour agreement. They had to go to the courts!The others, from Enmore, Rose Hall and Skeldon, were treated just as shabbily. They received only half of their severance pay – and were told they’ll get the rest “soon”. That “soon” stretched out to almost two years and had the workers marching under the hot son in front of their old, shuttered factories; in front of the Office of the President and finally in front of Parliament when the President was addressing the House. The Government kept repeating “soon”, even as workers’ families sunk into the abyss of poverty and hunger as the half-severance pay ran out.And then after all that pain and suffering of the workers, Parliament just approved the sum to complete the severance payout. But even now the workers have been kept hanging…the Government still refuses to give them a firm date when they’ll get their money. Your Eyewitness must say he’s quite surprised at the patience of the workers to collect their own money – which was constitutionally defined – in a famous case against Burnham, who also wanted to withhold sugar workers’ money – as “property”.If it were your Eyewitness’ property being withheld, he’d have come out into the streets long ago – with his working implement in his hand – and raised hell. It’s very clear the Government has nothing but contempt for sugar workers.They have to be disabused of that notion!!…doing business in GuyanaWith oil revenues on the horizon and Guyana finally receiving some serious interest from the international business community, this PNC-led Government has once again demonstrated how inept it is when it comes to developing this country. In the just released “ease of doing business index” issued by the World Bank –  in which a low score translates into better performance – Guyana was just dropped eight places from 124 to 132!It’s like the wallflower suddenly becoming the centre of attention at the ball and yet, he’s even more tongue-tied and bashful than ever!! Sadly, India, a country with a billion+ population and a moribund, old bureaucratic bound country, on the other hand, was able to jump TWENTY-THREE notches to a sleek 77!! And us with just ¾ million folks have headed in the opposite direction!!What gives?? It’s simple – none of the folks in this PNC Government even ran a tea shop!They should ask Modi – who did run a tea-stall – for advice!!…winning for WindiesJust when you hoped the West Indies would draw level with India – in cricket, at least – they were bowled out for 104 and India didn’t even take 15 overs to top that.But we just have to be patient…the talent is there.last_img

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