GAWU, NAACIE appeal CJ’s ruling

first_imgWeeks after acting Chief Justice Roxane George ruled against an application to quash Government’s move to close the East Demerara and Rose Hall Estates, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) are moving to challenge the ruling in the Appeal Court.GAWU President Komal ChandThis was confirmed by GAWU President Komal Chand, who told Guyana Times on Tuesday that the unions were of the view that the acting Chief Justice “erred” in denying the application.This contention, according to Chand, will have to be heard in the Appeal Court at a date to be determined. However, the unions will first tender submissions for the court’s consideration before the matter can proceed. The original injunction in the High Court had noted that not enough consultations were held by Government with the affected parties.The decision to challenge the acting Chief Justice’s decision comes less than two weeks after workers of the Rose Hall Estate in East Canje, Berbice, Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) were told of Government’s plans to put off that entity’s closure until next year. This estate was scheduled to be closed on December 31, 2017. However, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, had announced that the Special Purpose Unit (SPU), which was established under the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to manage the privatisation/divestment process of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) was yet to determine the way forward for Rose Hall Estate.It was in May 2017 that Government announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo. These decisions were, however, met with union and community -sanctioned protests, which saw many workers and affected residents taking to the streets to highlight the negative impact the closures would have on workers and the economy as a whole.In October, GuySuCo had disclosed plans to retrench some 2500 workers by the end of this year. However, GAWU reiterated that the downsizing and subsequent closure of sugar estates would lead to the loss of more than 15,000 jobs and the potential threat of poverty for between 50,000 and 100,000 people. A statement from Head of the Special Purpose Unit, Colvin Heath-London last month detailed that an international accounting firm would be recruited to evaluate GuySuCo’s assets for privatisation and divestment. Selected tenders were invited from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte, and KPMG to provide the service. The selected firm would be conducting the valuation of all assets under the control of GuySuCo, in addition to other advisory and financial services. The preparation of a prospectus is expected to be completed by the end of January 2018.The Private Sector, civil society and other interest groups have long decried the closures of estates, with many saying that the country’s overall economy and the economies of villages would be impacted as a whole. The social strain on families was also noted as a major possible setback as in many instances, multiple members of the same household, including some husbands and wives, are employed within the sugar industry. The Wales Estate was closed in December 2016.last_img read more