This morning (May 16, 2017), in a massive turn out, sugar workers joined by housewives, business persons, students, pensioners took part in a spirited march from the vicinity of Rose Hall Estate to the Sheet Anchor Turn and back to the Estate, a distance of about four (4) miles. This action demonstrated yet again the people’s strong opposition to the plan by the Government and the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) to close Rose Hall Estate at year-end. The Administration’s plans for sugar have triggered off a spate of protests in the sugar belt as workers fathom the dire consequences of closure as painfully shown recently with the closure of Wales Estate. An unambiguous message to the powers-that-be is conveyed by the people that they are staunchly opposed to the plans as stated in the Government’s State Paper on Sugar which will imperil their lives and their family’s well-being.
During the march, despite the threatening rain, the protestors carried a number of placards including “Upturn the decision to close Rose Hall Estate”, “We would be sunk into poverty after closure”, “APNU/AFC Govt betray sugar workers”, and “Closure of RH Estate is a political act”. And, as they marched the gathering got bigger and people joined it along the way and it is estimated that it reached over 2,500 persons. The protestors were addressed by, among others, GAWU General Secretary, Seepaul Narine; GAWU Vice President, Harvey Tambron, and three (3) sugar workers. The speakers condemned the plan for the closure which they visualized would bring grave suffering. They encouraged those present to continue to put up a fight and called on the Administration to listen to the cries of people and abandon their shortsighted plans for sugar. Among the large gathering were Regional Chairman David Armogan and Member of Parliament, Dr Vishwa Mahadeo.
Rose Hall Estate, according to data from GuySuCo, employs some 2,300 workers and assuming a family size of four (4), about 10,000 persons or 1.4 per cent of the country’s population will be directly impacted by the closure decision. Work in the sugar estate is the main avenue of employment, as has been the case for generations now, in that populous rural community. Closure will surely leave a vacuum that will not only gravely impact workers but also force businesses and service providers to curtail or end operations and thus making the bad situation even worse.
The wide participation testifies to the importance the people of Rose Hall attach to the estate and the justifiable concerns they have with the Government’s projections to close at this time. They recognize that the Estate is a major source of sustenance and its demise will be felt deeply and far and wide. The people are rightly fearful that their tranquil communities would be destroyed, families broken up and they will be increased incidences of crime and other social problems. They are urging the Administration to re-look at their plans which will clearly be a Government-made disaster. Certainly, they do not see that this is a path to the so far illusory ‘Good Life’.