Funds available to pay dismissed Wales sugar workers – Holder

first_img– as court ruling remains pending; matter to be heard today – GAWUWhile thousands of dismissed workers across the sugar belt were paid the final tranche of their severance payments, ex-Wales Sugar Estate workers are yet to receive their legally entitled benefits, as the matter is still before the court.Wales Sugar EstateHowever, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder is insisting that Government is ready to pay the workers, noting that the funds are available.“I spoke to GuySuCo (Guyana Sugar Corporation) and they said that unlike the others with the straightforward supplementary, that case is before the court. We have the money to pay, and if the court case with the workers and the union is done this week, they can get paid by weekend…we are ready,” Holder told this publication on Monday.GAWU President, Komal ChandHis comments came in response to a story carried in this newspaper wherein it was revealed that over 350 workers who had been attached to the Wales Sugar Estate were not paid their severance. These workers are involved in a court case wherein they contend that their employer, GuySuCo, was acting unlawfully by compelling them to travel 22 miles from their point of origin to Uitvlugt on the West Coast of Demerara.According to President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand, the court case is scheduled to be heard before Justice Sandil Kissoon today (Tuesday). It was in early November that the National Assembly gave approval for almost $2.5 billion to cater for the remaining severance payments to 4,723 sugar workers.Earlier this year, Government opted to pay some workers half of their severance, with the remaining half to be paid in the latter part of the year. It was last Friday that the majority of payments were made. During last week, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo gave all assurances that the Wales workers who were previously prevented from receiving severance pay by the GAWU-filed court case would receive their outstanding benefits.Agriculture Minister Noel HolderA report by Government agency the Department of Public Information (DPI) claimed that many former workers benefited from alternative livelihood programmes designed to equip them with skills to seek employment in different areas such as sewing, cosmetology, caring for the elderly, catering, mechanical and electrical works, and small business management. This was in contrast to what Guyana Times has been reporting over the last two years — that many of these very workers are finding great difficulty is obtaining consistent and well-paying employment. In December 2016, Wales was the first Estate that was closed in the current era of Governmental rule. Other Estates closed were Skeldon, Enmore and Rose Hall, all of which were re-opened under small operations as GuySuCo eyes local, regional and international investors to manage the entities.last_img read more