Another protest march, once again, attracted a very significant number of persons this morning (May 23, 2017). The march which begun in the vicinity of the Enmore sugar factory and wended it way through several streets of Enmore Village and culminated at the Enmore Blossom Scheme Playground – a distance of about two (2) miles. This activity which was organized by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) saw the participation of sugar workers, housewives, young people, pensioners, shopkeepers, and others who are staunchly opposed to plans by the Administration and the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) to close Enmore/LBI Estate at year-end.
The march, which lasted well over an hour, steadily grew as it went through the streets. Despite the rains which fell intermittently along the route, the participants were not daunted and continued to press on as the gathering grew. As they moved through the streets they held their placards and banners prominently as they shouted “No to Closure” and at times sang along to Bob Marley’s songs – Get up, Stand up and Who the cap fits – as well as the popular trade union song – Solidarity Forever.
Following the march, the marchers received brief addresses from Enmore/LBI shop steward, Roy Dundas; President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana, Cde Carvil Duncan; Treasurer of the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), Cde Bhagmat Hochand; GAWU Executive Committee member, Cde Gordon Thomas; GAWU Assistant General Secretary, Cde Aslim Singh, and GAWU President, Cde Komal Chand. All of the speakers congratulated those present for their spirited and well-attended march and encouraged them to continue to put up a strong fight. They urged the relevant authorities to sit up and take note of the growing people’s resistance to the unpopular plans they have in mind.
This activity like those before indicate that the people are in high spirits and are doggedly determined to continue in a sustained way to have the short-sighted and clearly wrong plans on sugar reviewed and recalled. Enmore/LBI Estates, at this time, employs some 2,200 workers and its operations support tens of thousands more. The GAWU was especially pleased to see the participation of non-sugar workers in today’s activities. Their presence, we hold, is prompted by their recognition of the difficulties that will beset the communities linked to Enmore/LBI and as now seen with the painful example of Wales.
It is disconcerting that closure is being considered at Enmore/LBI taking into account the investments in recent times. Significant sums were expended to construct the packaging plant through which GuySuCo receives the best prices for its sugar, according to the Sugar Commission of Inquiry (CoI). Furthermore, over the years, GuySuCo spent large sums in field conversion to facilitate mechanized operations. According to our information, Enmore/LBI is the most advanced estate in this regard in Demerara. It is perplexing that closure would be considered in view of the very good possibilities which are generally recognized.
The workers are calling on the Administration and the GuySuCo to engage the Unions in the sugar industry in meaningful dialogue to address the challenges the industry faces. The GAWU holds that the three (3) meetings with members of the Government were merely a façade meant to pull the wool over the eyes of the Guyanese people and moreso the sugar workers. We urge that the voices of the working, productive people be heard by those in whose hands are levers of power and to engage in frank discussions to avoid the serious consequences of closure on thousands of our working-people and their families