In response to the current dilemma of retrenched sugar workers in Guyana facing desperate hardships, the Indian
Diaspora Council International (IDC) has joined with other concerned organizations and groups to express its
support and urge timely assistance as needed. IDC has established a “Committee on Plight of Retrenched Sugar
Workers in Guyana” with the following mission: “To ascertain the plight of entrenched sugar workers and seek
ways and means to alleviate the suffering of those sugar workers and their families impacted by retrenchment due
to closures of sugar estates. Activities of the committee are non-political, secular and not in conflict with laws or
policies of the countries in which the committee would conduct its work”.
In a letter dated January 25, 2018 to Mr. Komal Chand, President of Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), IDC stated that, “As is widely known, there are numerous news reports, letters and editorial out of Guyana, the Caribbean region, USA, Canada and UK about the severe consequential suffering and hardships inflicted upon Guyana sugar workers and their families due to closure of sugar estates and retrenchment. It is being widely reported that there is widespread alarm about the plight of these sugar workers and their families which are factual and raises concern about the wellbeing of people who are bearing the consequences of sugar industry and governmental policy changes”.
The IDC statement continued: “We applaud the decades long pioneering successes of Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) in representing the interests of Guyanese sugar workers for equitable wages and workers’ rights which have contributed enormously to the economic growth of Guyana. The sugar industry in Guyana, as with other former British colonies, was historically the economic mainstay of highly profitable sugar plantations and later for the independent countries. It is ironic that retrenched sugar workers are the consequential victims of an industry which brought slaves from Africa and Indian indentured laborers for profit and later a significant economic mainstays of the nation. We firmly believe that the retrenched sugar workers are deserving of the nation’s support at this crucial time of need”
IDC concurs that this is a real human problem affecting innocent workers, their families and others dependent on the continuing employment of sugar workers. The consequential effects and impact on society can be staggering and long lasting as the number of retrenched sugar workers are over 17,000 which is a substantial number.
“We urge GAWU and the Government of Guyana to take all necessary steps to quickly remedy the adverse effects on the retrenched sugar workers and their families. We urge all options and opportunities be taken into consideration, such as: Seek alternate markets globally; external investments for reviving closed sugar estates for same or alternate crops; alternate crops using existing irrigation and estate infrastructure; sugar estate land distribution to retrenched sugar workers; other progressive and humane alternatives”.
The IDC letter to Mr. Komal Chand was also copied to: Mr Seepaul Narine, General Secretary, GAWU; HE David Granger, President of the Republic of Guyana; and Amb. Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretar. General of CARICOM.