THE STATE OF SUGAR RIGHT NOW Issue#: 2 Volume#: 32
Voice of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU)
- GAWU’s Findings and Perspectives
COMBAT: March/April, 2011
three weeks in May, a production close to 120,000 tonnes is realizable. The workers’ work attendance has also been favourable. The better attendance is partially attributable to workers benefitting from weekly productive incentives (WPI). Workers of an estate where the weekly production target has been achieved enjoy a day’s tax free pay as WPI. Should the target be exceeded by 130 per cent, two days’ pay is awarded. The following estates, as at week ending April 16, 2011, have attained their weekly production targets, thus entitling workers to incentives:Skeldon Albion Rose Hall Blairmont Enmore LBI Wales Uitvlugt
- - - - - - - -
1 day’s pay 4 days’ pay 3 days’ pay 5 days’ pay 1 day pay 1 day pay 2 days’ pay 2 days’ pay
The world market price of sugar, which is in the vicinity of US25 cents per pound, could redound to improvement of the Corporation’s revenue base. Unfortunately, the Corporation’s current production is just enough to fulfill its contractual market commitments to the European Union, the United States of America, the Caribbean and the local market. Should the production advance to 300,000 tonnes and above, surplus sugar would be available for sale in the lucrative world market later in the year. The weather aside, the Corporation needed to address a matter of grave concern to the workers. The workforce had not obtained a five (5) per cent adjustment in the rate of pay from January 01, 2011, in keeping with the five (5) per cent pay adjustment on last year’s
earnings. There is much disgruntlement, among workers, which could have propelled them to commence protest action. The Union, on April 13, 2011, wrote the Corporation requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the issue, and was eager to have this matter resolved without having the workers engage in industrial action. The Corporation recognising there would be industrial unrest met with the Union on April 21, 2011. The Corporation
informed the Union that the adoption of the new rate of pay of 5 per cent in sync with the 5 per cent payment on last year’s salary would no longer be linked with the achievement of the crop’s production of 138,791 tonnes of sugar. The Corporation advised the Union that the new rate would be implemented retroactively to January 01, 2011 and it would be implemented not later than June 30, 2011.
• Major Joint-Education Project Concludes • LBI Factory Closed • BEV Processors Reorganised • GAWU recognises Kowsilla’s Sacrifice for Workers’ Cause • Meet Keith Emanuel Crawford • GAWU’s call on May Day 2011 • And Much More
INSIDE this edition
The sugar industry commenced this year by targeting itself to produce 298,879 tonnes of sugar: 138,791 tonnes in the first crop and 160,088 tonnes in the second crop. Since 2005, the industry has failed yearly to produce 300,000 tonnes, causing itself significant financial woes. Should the industry realize its targeted production this year, there will be a turnaround for this important state Corporation and its 18,000-person workforce. GAWU desires that this objective be achieved in the interest of the national economy and the livelihood of its members. But already, problems appear. As at week ending April 23, 2011, however, the production was merely 79,682 tonnes. At this point in time production should have been 121,124 tonnes there is now a deficit of 41,442 tonnes, or 34.2 per cent. The elongated La Nina weather condition has significantly hampered the reaping of the crop’s canes. As at weekending April 23, 2011, 14 weeks have elapsed since the crop commenced. However, there were only four full weeks in which harvesting was not affected by inclement weather. In some weeks, reaping was restricted to one or two days, depending on the rainfall in each estate location. With the dry weather prevailing from week ending April 02, 2011, the weekly production has been improving. However, the May-June rainy season would undoubtedly bring a closure to the crop before it has been fully reaped. It is expected that one-third of the crop’s canes would remain unharvested should the crop conclude in early May. If that assumption holds true, then production for this crop could be less than 100,000 tonnes. On the other hand, if the weather allows reaping to continue for about
MAJOR JOINT EDUCATION PROJECT CONCLUDES
- 128 partcipants receive Certificates
Left: the Graduates from the Demerara Estates and Right: the Graduates from the Berbice Estates
The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), with the support of Britain’s General Union (GMB), concluded an almost year-long educational project, entitled “Promoting Legal Rights and Building Union Capacity in Guyana” with 128 members of both unions in attendance. The project was a result of the ongoing sugar networking activities, which in the past few years has developed solidarity links between the GMB on one hand, and GAWU and NAACIE on the other, in the context of the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations’ (IUF) Global Sugar Programme. The project particularly addressed five labour-friendly Acts, namely: the Trade Union Recognition Act, the Trade Union Act, the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Prevention of Discrimination Act. The tutors delved into the Acts to provide participants with a clear and practical understanding of the legislation from a worker’s perspective. The participants, who were mainly shop stewards or representatives, have now become more able to conduct representation to Management toward the resolution of workers’ problems and grievances. The training also dealt with union matters, including the history of NAACIE and GAWU, the role of Shop Stewards, Collective Labour Agreements, Gender and Trade Union Work, and HIV/AIDS in the workplace. A session on the Situation and Outlook of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) was also part of the agenda. The 128 participants attended two Sessions (“A” and “B”) with each session being of five (5) days’ duration. Six groups of participants attended each session, with about 21 participants per group. The participants returned to their respective Session B course approxiCOMBAT: March/April, 2011
mately four (4) months after the conclusion of their Session A course. Also included in the project were four (4) one-day workshops at Wales, Albion, Skeldon and Uitvlugt Estates. Of the 96 participants in attendance, some participants attended the Session A courses along for other rank-and-file members of GAWU and NAACIE. The workshops contributed to improving the knowledge of the participants. As part of the project, a Training Manual encompassing the five Acts would be published, expectedly, by June, 2011. The Manual would be a useful tool for workers and unions generally. The Acts are expressed in a simple manner, and would include teaching aids, such as roleplaying, and questions to assist them to better grasp each Act. The project culminated with two (2) Graduation Ceremonies, held on April 15 and 16, 2011 at the Cheddi Jagan Research Centre and the Albion Sports Complex respectively. Of the 128 participants, 48 persons were from Demerara while the remaining 80 persons were from Berbice. One hundred and twenty-one (121) persons were presented with Certificates of Acquired Skills while seven (7) persons received Certificates of Participation. GAWU and NAACIE have estimated that a few thousand of the 15,000 sugar workforce will enjoy a better standard of representation as a result of the training received by the 128 participants. Participants have noted that, following their return to their respective estates, they were better able to represent workers’ issues, as in grievance cases and health and safety issues; therefore, improving their conditions of work and, by extension, assisting to stabilise the climate of industrial relations in the sugar sector. They also noted that they are sharing what they learnt with their fellow workers.
THE WFTU 16th Congress GAWU now on the Presidential Council
Delegates at the Opening Session of the Congress The World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) successfully held its 16th World Trade Union Congress in Athens, Greece from April 06 – 10, 2011. From all continents and 101 countries, there were 828 representatives who, through their attendance and participation, embraced the Congress’s Central Slogan: “Struggle for the Working Class Contemporary needs against Capitalist Barbarism, for a World without Exploitation” The Congress unanimously re-elected George Marvikos as its General Secretary. A forty-person Presidential Council was also elected, ensuring that there is regional representation across the globe on this important body. The WFTU, sixty-six (66) years after its formation, is becoming a more active bulwark in championing workers’ causes around the world, and providing guidance and leadership at this juncture in the world’s history, when the Capitalist system is shaken with multiple crises so challenging and hitherto unknown. GAWU hopes to publish a Special Supplement of the recently-concluded WFTU Congress, which will include the address to the Congress by GAWU President Komal Chand, who was elected a member of the Presidential Council. Page Two
NEWS AND ISSUES ABOUT GAWU MEMBERS LBI Factory Closed The Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) has closed its LBI Sugar Factory with effect from March 18, 2011. One hundred and sixty-five (165) workers who are represented by GAWU were affected by the closure. However, they have been provided with alternative jobs. Eighty-two (82) of them have been transferred to the new Packaging Plant at Enmore and the Enmore Factory, while the remaining eighty-three (83) have been retained at LBI to work in the Power House and the Mechanical and Electrical and Instrument workshops which are to be expanded to provide services to the Corporation’s Estates.
Canes at Skeldon Estate to be disposed
Skeldon Estate ended the second crop last year with 1,600 hectares of unharvested canes which is equivalent In April, 2009, Guysuco announced in its 2009-2013 Turnaround Plan, which to 160,000 tonnes incorporated, among other things, the closure of LBI Factory. GAWU supportcanes. The poor ed the Plan generally, but denounced the decision to close the LBI Factory, functioning of the to retire the Diamond Cultivation, and to surrender the Corporation’s Health new Skeldon Sugar Services to the Ministry of Health. The Corporation has not implemented the Factory and the unlatter decision. Last June, President Bharat Jagdeo announced that the State favourable weather Corporation would continue to administer its health services. in the latter half of last year (2010) are Guysuco, in supporting its decision to close the Factory, pointed out that the the attributable factors. After 30 months of being commissioned the new facfactory is highly underutilized. Over the past three years, the factory has been tory is still beset by a few major defects. operating for just about 75 hours per week out of an expected performance During the course of the current crop, a great part of the “brought over” of 135 hours. The Corporation failed, however, to point out that neglect of canes would be reaped and processed into sugar. It is not practicable to harthe LBI cultivation over the past years was pivotal to the inadequate cane vest all the carried over canes at one swoop, bearing in mind the geographical supply to the Factory, thus resulting in low operating periods. location of the said cane. Thus it is estimated that 200 of the 1,600 hectares would be discarded later in the current crop. The “brought over” canes were Field labourers are not affected by the factory’s closure. Cane cultivation treated with ripeners. Ripended canes, if not reaped within a certain timeand related crop husbandry work would continue within the LBI cultivation. frame, deteriorates quickly, whereby the sucrose content diminishes and the Much cane would be needed to supply the neighbouring Enmore Factory, stalk becomes almost weightless. which would need to provide enough sugar to supply the newly-constructed If the 200 hectares of canes were reaped at the correct time, it was estiPackaging Plant, which is designed to produce initially 40,000 tonnes of value mated to have yielded almost G$190 million at the current price the Guyana added sugar per year. Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) receives from the European Union (EU)
BEV Processors re-organised
Phillip Bruce Viera has once again regained the full ownership of BEV Processors Inc, sixteen (16) years after he conceded two-thirds of the Company’s shares to Demerara Distillers Limited and Goddard Enterprises Limited (GEL) from Barbados. On acquiring the Company fully, he sold the Company’s ten shrimp trawlers and six of its twelve shrimp peelers to Pritipaul Singh Investments Inc, the largest fish/shrimp processor in Guyana. The sale of the trawlers and peelers resulted in the redundancy of ninety-two (92) workers on March 17, 2011. However, he has since rehired forty-four (44) of those workers at the starting rate. The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) was not pleased with the retrenchment of the workers, but in light of the reorganization of a section of the Company’s business, the union ensured that the clauses of the Collective Labour Agreement stipulating the conditions under which workers could be made redundant were fully adhered to. COMBAT: March/April, 2011
Meet your Branch Executives
Rose Hall Estate Chairman: Mohamed S. Ahamad, Vice Chairman: Sohan Rabindranauth, Secretary: Charles Cadogan, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer: Rohan Seecharran and Committee Members: Inderjeet Persaud, Nalinee Sukhai, Sandra Parris, Leslyn Southwell, Collette Sinclair, Odetta Sinclair, Kowsilla Ramotar, Colleen Lindo, Neenawattie Karpen, Debra Simon, Parbattie Shivchand and Shenolla Wills Albion Estate Chairman: Vimen Armogan, Vice Chairman: Hernie Parks, Secretary: Rikhram Srikishun, Assistant Secretary/ Treasurer: M.R. Gafur, Organising Secretary: Ganga Persaud Shivdyal and Committee Members: Michael Inderdatt, Stephen Inderdatt, Arthur Stephen, Shana Jobe, Orson Walcott, Vickram Sahadeo, Sandra Permaul, Joshua Appadu, Moses Interdatt, Arjuna Verasammy Page Three
INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL
Libya and Obama’s defense of the ‘Rebel Uprising’
Over the past two weeks, Libya has been subjected to the most brutal imperial air, sea and land assault in its modern history. Thousands of bombs and missiles, launched from American and European submarines, warships and fighter planes, are destroying Libyan military bases, airports, roads, ports, oil depots, artillery emplacements, tanks, armoured carriers, planes and troop concentrations. Dozens of CIA and SAS special forces have been training, advising and mapping targets for the so-called Libyan ‘rebels’ engaged in a civil war against the Gaddafi government, its armed forces, popular militias and civilian supporters (NY Times, 3/30/11).
Despite this massive military support and their imperial ‘allies’ total control of Libya’s sky and coastline, the ‘rebels’ have proven incapable of mobilizing village or town support, and are in retreat after being confronted by the Libyan government’s highly motivated troops and village militias (Al Jazeera, 3/30/11). One of the flimsiest excuses for this inglorious rebel retreat offered by the Cameron-Obama-Sarkozy ‘coalition’, echoed by the mass media, is that their Libyan ‘clients’ are “outgunned” (Financial Times, 3/29/11). Obviously, Obama and company don’t count the scores of jets, dozens of warships and submarines, the hundreds of daily attacks and the thousands of bombs dropped on the Libyan government since the start of Western imperial intervention. Direct military intervention of 20 major and minor foreign military powers, savaging the sovereign Libyan state, as well as scores of political accomplices in the United Nations, do not contribute to any military advantage for the imperial clients – according to the daily pro-rebel propaganda. The Los Angeles Times (March 31, 2011), however described how “…many rebels in gun-mounted trucks turned and fled…even though their heavy machine guns and antiaircraft guns seemed a match for any similar government vehicle.” Indeed, no ‘rebel’ force in recent history has received such sustained military support from so many imperial powers in their confrontation with an established regime. Nevertheless, the ‘rebel’ forces on the front lines are in full retreat, fleeing in disarray and thoroughly disgusted with their ‘rebel’ generals and ministers back in Benghazi. Meanwhile the ‘rebel’ leaders, in elegant suits and tailored uniforms, answer the ‘call to battle’ by attending ‘summits’ in London where ‘liberation strategy’ consists of their appeal before the mass media for imperial ground troops (The Independent, London, 3/31/11). Morale among the frontline ‘rebels’ is low: According to credible reports from the battlefront at Ajdabiya, “Rebels …complained that their erstwhile commanders were nowhere to be found. They griped about comrades who fled to the relative safety of Benghazi… (they complained that) forces in Benghazi monopolized 400 donated field radios and 400 more…satellite phones intended for the battlefield, (mostly) rebels say commanders rarely visit the battlefield and exercise little COMBAT: March/April, 2011
authority because many fighters do not trust them” (Los Angeles Times, 3/31/2011). Apparently ‘Twitters’ don’t work on the battlefield. The decisive issues in a civil war are not weapons, training or leadership, although certainly these factors are important; The basic difference between the military capability of the pro-government Libyan forces and the Libyan ‘rebels’, backed by both Western imperialists and ‘progressives,’ lies in their motivation, values and material advances. Western imperialist intervention has heightened national consciousness among the Libyan people, who now view their confrontation with the anti-Gaddafi ‘rebels’ as a fight to defend their homeland from foreign air and sea power and puppet land troops – a powerful incentive for any people or army. The opposite is true for the ‘rebels’, whose leaders have surrendered their national identity and depend entirely on imperialist military intervention to put them in power. What rank and file ‘rebel’ fighters are going to risk their lives, fighting their own compatriots, just to place their country under an imperialist or neocolonial rule?
Finally, Western journalists’ accounts are coming to light of village and town pro-government militias, repelling these ‘rebels’ and even how “a busload of (Libyan) women suddenly emerged (from one village)… and began cheering as though they supported the rebels…” drawing the Western-backed rebels into a deadly ambush set by their pro-government husbands and neighbors (Globe and Mail, Canada, 3/28/11 and McClatchy News Service, 3/29/11). The ‘rebels’ who enter their villages are seen as invaders, breaking doors, blowing up homes and arresting and accusing local leaders of being ‘fifth columnists’ for Gaddafi. The threat of military ‘rebel’ occupation, the arrest and abuse of local authorities, and the disruption of highly-valued family, clan and local community relations have motivated local Libyan militias and fighters to attack the Western-backed ‘rebels’. The ‘rebels’ are regarded as ‘outsiders’ in terms of regional and clan allegiances; by trampling on local mores, the ‘rebels’ now find themselves in ‘hostile’ territory. What ‘rebel’ fighter would be willing to die defending hostile terrain? Such ‘rebels’ have only to call on foreign air-power to ‘liberate’ the pro-government village for them. The Western media, unable to grasp these material advances by the pro-government forces, attribute popular backing of Gaddafi to ‘coercion’ or ‘co-optation’, relying on ‘rebel’ claims that ‘everybody is secretly opposed to the regime’. There is another material reality, which is conveniently ignored: The Gaddafi regime has effectively used the country’s oil wealth to build a vast network of public schools, hospitals and clinics. Libyans have the highest per capita income in Africa at $14,900 per annum (Financial Times, 4/2/11. Tens of thousands of low-income Libyan students have received scholarships to study at home and overseas. The urban in-
frastructure has been modernized, agriculture is subsidized and small-scale producers and manufacturers receive government credit. Gaddafi has overseen these effective programs, in addition to enriching his own clan/family. On the other hand, the Libyan rebels and their imperial mentors have targeted the entire civilian economy, bombed Libyan cities, cut trade and commercial networks, blocked the delivery of subsidized, food and welfare to the poor, caused the suspension of schools, and forced hundreds of thousands of foreign professionals, teachers, doctors and skilled contract workers to flee. Libyans, who might otherwise resent Gaddafi’s long autocratic tenure in office, are now faced with the choice between supporting an advanced, functioning welfare state or a foreign-directed military conquest. Many have chosen, quite rationally, to stand with the regime. The debacle of the imperial-backed ‘rebel’ forces, despite their immense technical-military advantage, is due to the quisling leadership, their role as ‘internal colonialists’ invading local communities; and, aboveall, their wanton destruction of a social-welfare system which has benefited millions of ordinary Libyans for two generations. The failure of the ‘rebels’ to advance, despite the massive support of imperial air and sea power, means that the US-France-Britain ‘coalition’ will have to escalate its intervention beyond sending special forces, advisers and CIA assassination teams. Given Obama-Clinton’s stated objective of ‘regime change’, there will be no choice but to introduce imperialist troops, send large-scale shipments of armored carriers and tanks, and increase the use of the highly destructive depleted uranium munitions. No doubt, Obama, the most public face of ‘humanitarian armed intervention’ in Africa, will recite bigger and more grotesque lies, as Libyan villagers and townspeople fall victims to his imperial juggernaut. Washington’s ‘first black Chief Executive’ will earn history’s infamy as the US President responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of black Libyans and mass expulsion of millions of sub-Saharan African workers employed under the current regime (Globe and Mail, 3/28/11). No doubt, Anglo-American progressives and leftists will continue to debate (in ‘civilized tones’) the pros and cons of this ‘intervention’, following in the footsteps of their predecessors, the French Socialists and US New Dealers from the 1930’s, who once debated the pros and cons of supporting Republican Spain… While Hitler and Mussolini bombed the republic on behalf of the ‘rebel’ fascist forces under General Franco, who upheld the Falangist banner of ‘Family, Church and Civilization’ – a fascist prototype for Obama’s ‘humanitarian intervention’ on behalf of his ‘rebels’ by James Petras Page Four
INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL | INTERNATIONAL
THE TIME HAS COME TO DO SOMETHING
- Fidel Castro
mary fashion, which have been published in the last few days: “The UN is warning about the risk of a new food crisis. “January 11, 2011 (AFP)” “‘We are facing a very tense situation’…” FAO corroborates. “Some 80 countries are facing a shortage of food...” “The global rate of prices for basic agricultural products (grains, meat, sugar, oleaginous and dairy products) is currently at its highest level since FAO began to use that index rate 20 years ago.”
Continued from last edition
China, Pakistan and other countries; excessive rainfall in Australia that have flooded almost a million square kilometres; unusually harsh and unseasonable cold waves in Europe that have considerable impact on agriculture; droughts in Canada; unusual cold waves there and in the US; unprecedented rain in Colombia affecting millions of farming land; never-before seen rainfall in Venezuela; catastrophes caused by excessive rain in the great cities of Brazil and droughts in the South. There is practically no region in the world where such events have not taken place. Productions of wheat, soya, corn, rice and other numerous grains and legumes that make up the food base of the world – whose population today according to calculations totals almost 6.9 billion inhabitants, now coming close to the new figure of 7billion, and where more than one billion are suffering from hunger and malnutrition – are being seriously affected by climate changes, creating a very serious problem in the world. When reserves have not been totally recovered or just partially in some items, a serious threat is now creating problems and destabilization in many States. More than 80 countries, all of them in the Third World, already having difficult problems of their own, are being threatened with real famines.
I am not speaking about wars, whose risks and consequences have been transmitted by wise and brilliant people, including many Americans. I am referring to the food crisis originating in the economic facts and the climatic changes that are apparently now irreversible as a consequence of the actions of man, but which, at any rate, human minds are under the obligation to face in a hurry. For years, which was really time lost, the matter was being talked about. But the country which emits the greatest amount of polluting gases in the world, the United States, was regularly ignoring world opinion. Leaving protocol and the other customary stupidities of the men of state in consumer societies to one side, things that the influence of the media usually bewildered them with once they came into power, the reality is that they didn’t pay any attention to the matter. An alcoholic, whose problems were widely known, and I don’t need to name him, imposed his line of thinking upon the international community. The problems have suddenly taken shape now, through the phenomena that are being repeated on every continent: heat waves, forest fires, losses of harvests in Russia, with many victims; climate changes in China, excessive rainfalls or droughts, progressive losses of water reserves I shall limit myself to quote these in the Himalayas threatening India, statements and reports, in a sumCOMBAT: March/April, 2011
“UNITED NATIONS, January (IPS),” “The UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), with headquarters in Rome, last week alerted that world prices for rice, wheat, sugar, barley and meat […] would undergo significant increases in 2011…” “PARIS, Janury 10 (Reuters) - President Nicolas Sarkozy of France shall be taking his campaign to confront the high global food prices to Washington this week …” “Basel (Switzerland), Janaury 10 (EFE).- The president of the Central European Bank (BCE), Jean Claude Trichet, spokesperson for the governors of the central banks of the Group of 10 (G-10), today cautioned about the strong rise in food prices and the inflationist threat in emerging economies.” “The World Bank fears a crisis in the price of foods, January 15 (BBC) “The president of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, told the BBC that the crisis would be deeper than that of 2008.” “MEXICO DF, January 7 (Reuters)” “The annual rhythm of inflation for foods has increased threefold in Mexico in November as compared to two months ago...” “Washington, January 18 (EFE) “The climate change will aggravate the lack of foods, according to a study.” “‘Since more than 20 years ago, scientists have been alerting about the impact of climate change, but nothing is changing other than the increase in emissions that cause
global warning’, Liliana Hisas, executive director of the US affiliate of this organization told EFE. “Osvaldo Canziani, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and scientific advisor for the report, indicated that ‘in the entire world meteorological episodes and extreme climatic conditions are being recorded, and increases in average surface temperatures are exacerbating the intensity of these episodes’.” “(Reuters) January 18, Algeria is buying wheat to avoid shortages and unrest. “The State grain agency of Algeria has bought around 1 million tons of wheat in the last two weeks to avoid shortages in the case of unrest, a Ministry of Agriculture source informed Reuters. “(Reuters) January 18, Wheat shows a strong gain in Chicago after Algerian purchases.” “The Economist, January 18, 2011 “World alert due to food prices” “Among the main causes are the floods and droughts caused by climatic changes, the use of foods to manufacture bio-fuels and speculation in commodities prices.” The problems are dramatically serious. However, all is not lost. Current calculated wheat production reached almost 650 million tons. That of corn surpasses that amount and nears 770 million tons. Soy could come close to 260 million tons; of this the US calculates 92 million and Brazil 77 million. They are the two greatest producers. The general data on grains and legumes available in 2011 are wellknown. The first matter to be resolved by the world community would be to choose between foods and bio-fuels. Brazil, a developing country, shall of course have to be compensated. If the millions of tons of soy and corn being invested into bio-fuels are routed towards the production of foods, the unusual rise in prices would cease and the world`s scientists would be able to propose formulae that might in some way or other halt and even reverse the situation. We have lost too much time. The time has come to do something now. Page Five
By Dr Cheddi Jagan
Continued from last edition
The State The role of the state in development is as a source of great controversy. This is because businessmen and social scientists each have different concepts on the role of the state. Businessmen want a marginal role for the state. Their philosophy is less government in business and more business in government. On the one hand, they do not want government to interfere, everything must be left to competition and market forces, on the other hand, they want the state to provide the unprofitable infrastructure facilities such as roads, sea defence, drainage and irrigation, etc. This has led to debt payment and balance of payment problems, especially with very high earnings on foreign investments in the profitable agricultural and industrial sectors and the drain of profits overseas (in Latin America and the Caribbean, there was a net annual outflow of US$36 billion due to dividend, principal and interest payments in the 1981-1985 period). As regards Big Business and the transnational corporations, Keith Bezanson, President of the International Development Research Institute, noted: “Much deeper than the end of the Cold War and the breakdown of ideology is the supplanting of the nation-state itself by the new forces of transnational and supranation-
al entities. The effects of these new forces cross all boundaries. They are fast rendering meaningless the intellectual basis for differentiation along a North-South axis. A more accurate reflection of what is happening between and with societies is increasingly to be found on an “included-excluded” axis. The investments of transnational and supranational entities are unlikely to be the kinds of investments that the poverty-riddled parts of the world require: basic infrastructure, health, education, and fundamental services for the integration of populations into their own economies and societies. Since the 18th century, these are the kinds of investments that have been made by the nation-state. There is need for a Code of Conduct for the transnational corporations and a greater role for the state in development, to attain social justice. In a developing country, there is a greater activist role for the state. It is also felt that the earnings from the profitable industrial, agricultural and service sectors must be utilized to finance the unprofitable infrastructure. The PPP/CIVIC government does not share the view of the PNC that all state enterprises must be divested. It sees the need for a mixed tri-sector – state, cooperative, private – economy and a genuine partnership arrangement with foreign capital and local
capital and/or the state. Such joint ventures exist with the Guyana/ Libya Agricultural Scheme, the Guyana/ Reynolds Bauxite Company, Aroaima, the Guyana/Edgworth Construction International Stone Quarry at Tiperu-Itabu, and the Continental Agencies/Berjaya Co Ltd hotel project. The State must not simply play a marginal role and be involved only in infrastructure development. It must play a dynamic economic role, in a strategic sense. The state must become involved in removing market imperfections. Generally, in independent underdeveloped capitalist states, there is a lack of free market competition. A monopoly situation and cartel arrangements facilitate profit gouging and high profit margins. Monopolies and collusive practices must be countered by state intervention. The state must also curb the private sector’s unfair and illegal practices, such as smuggling, under-invoicing, illegal exports, avoidance of payments of taxes through “cooking-the-books”. At the same time, the state must ensure a reduction in the cost of living. With nearly half of the population below the poverty line, a fragile economy and tenuous democracy, every effort must be made to avoid the serious racial/ethnic clashes and strife of the early 1960s. In this regard, and particularly noting the demands of the PNC and the international financial institutions
for a speedy privatization/divestment of state-owned entities, the Report of the IDB study group is relevant. It noted: “Special care must be taken to prevent disruption of the delicate social balance, as winners and losers of the adjustment process are, without deliberate retribution measurers, likely to run along ethnic lines.” Blind application of market forces would result in tangible benefits for the East Indian population group that is strongly represented in agriculture, professional services and commerce, and net cost for Afro-Guyanese, who are highly urbanized and strongly represented in government, police, military and bauxite mining. Reform must therefore be designed to spread their impact equitably among the various social strata and ethnic groups: a cost/benefit sharing system palatable to the population at large is a condition sine qua non for a successful completion of the adjustment process.” On the issue of privatization, the views of the PPP/Civic Government are reflected in the UNDP Human Development Report 1993, which observes: “Privatization is no panacea, however. Hastily conceived or executed, it might achieve very little. Privatization should thus be seen not as an end, but as a means to higher levels of human development.”
MEET KEITH EMANUEL CRAWFORD
- A Multi-Talented and Trained GAWU Representative In 1971, at aged sixteen (16), he left school to enter the world of work. He worked as a labourer with the Guyana Rice DevelopCde Crawford receiving his “Certificate of Acquired Skills” from NAACIE’s Gen- m e n t eral Secretary, Cde Kenneth Joseph at the GAWU/NAACIE/GMB Graduation Board, as Ceremony on April 16, 2011 at the Albion Sports Complex a driver with the Ministry of Public Works and the In this edition of Combat we profile long- Ministry of Education, at a Mining Company standing GAWU shop steward Cde Keith in Linden and a taxi service in Berbice. He Emanuel Crawford, an employee from Skel- also served as a member of the Guyana Podon Estate. lice Force. Cde Crawford hails from Ulverston Village on the Corentyne Coast. He is the sixth of seven children born to Joseph and Celena Crawford, and is the father of eight (8) children. COMBAT: March/April, 2011
In August, 1985, Crawford, joined the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) as a cane harvester at Skeldon Estate. He found the work arduous and felt the pay was not com-
pensatory. Later, he opted to become a lorry driver at the same estate. Finally, he returned to work as a cane cutter in 1989. He was regarded as a spokesperson for his colleagues with respect to their problems and grievances. In a short time, he was elected by the workers to be one of their three representatives in his gang. As a member of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), he was eligible for election. He said that the confidence reposed in him by workers persuaded him to accept the responsibility seriously, and made him more committed to his fellow workers. Crawford, over the years, has participated in many struggles led by GAWU to press for improved benefits as well as defending the workers’ gains. He views his shop steward role as challenging. The support he gets from fellow workers has made his role as a shop steward much easier. He said that his association with the Union, his attendance at union seminars, union meetings and unioncompany meetings widened his knowledge. He said that a representative should read and learn more, so as to improve his/her knowledge in industrial relations. He felt that at all times a representative must lead and guide members, who must repose confidence in and have respect for him or her.
He was high in his praise for GAWU to have constructed its own Labour College, which was launched in March, 2010. He said that workers should not fail to grasp the opportunity to attend the College whenever they have the chance. He was upbeat to have been one of the 128 students who participated in a special education project conducted by GMB/GAWU/NAACIE at the GAWU Labour College. He attended the course, which lasted for ten (10) days; two five-day sessions, with an interval of approximately four (4) months. On 16th April, 2011, at a special ceremony, he received his Certificate of Acquired Skills, along other participants of the course. He related that the course equipped him to better represent workers, and he is proud that he was selected as a participant. Crawford feels that GAWU has championed the cause of its members over the years with great success.. He feels that the Union is providing dedicated leadership to its members. He said that he would like to see the union members fully rally with the Union, which is paramount for members to advance their benefits and to protect their gains. He calls upon the few free riders within the union’s bargaining units to authorize the deduction of union dues, which are so important to upkeep the staff of the Union and to maintain the Union’s effective functioning. Page Six
GAWU Recognises Kowsilla’s GAWU/ILO concludes workshop on Sacrifice for Workers’ Cause Occupational Safety and Health
A section of the attendees at the activity at the Kowsilla Memorial Park
Two events were organized by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), with the support of the Women’s Progressive Organisation (WPO), to observe the 47th Death Anniversary of Kowsilla. There was a simple ceremony at her gravesite at the Anna Catherina Cemetery on March 06, 2011. Wreaths were placed on her tomb and tributes were made by Union officials and others. On March 07, 2011, there was a public event at the Kowsilla Memorial Park at Alice Street, Leonora, where her bust is erected. Addressing the event was the General Secretary of the Women’s Progessive Organisation (WPO), Cde Indra Chandarpal; the General Secretary of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Donald Ramotar; the General Secretary of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), Cde Kenneth Joseph; the Chairperson of the GAWU Women’s Forum, Cde Gaitri Baron; and the General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Cde Seepaul Narine.
Kowsilla, a humble housewife, was an active member of the WPO. On March 06, 1964, outside the Leonora Factory gate, she squatted alongside striking sugar workers who were protesting against their denial of work and at the same time highlighting their call for the recognition of GAWU. The General Manager of the Estate instructed a scab-driven tractor to traverse the bridge, causing Kowsilla’s death and serious injury to fourteen (14) others. Since that fateful day, Kowsilla’s name and sacrifice has become known across the sugar industry and among workers generally and other Guyanese. The commemoration is a yearly event, and she is regarded as a heroine. Twelve years after her death, and after twenty-eight (28) years of union recognition struggle, GAWU was formally recognized by the Sugar Producers Association on February 27, 1976, after a poll held on December 31, 1975, which saw GAWU securing the support of 98 per cent of the 22,000-person workforce.
Cde Hyder passes on GAWU General Council Member Cde Hyder Alli of LBI Estate, who was featured in our last edition of Combat passed away on (Sunday) March 13, 2011 at aged 72. He was buried on March 16, 2011. COMBAT: March/April, 2011
The International Labour Organisation (ILO), through Decent Work Team and Caribbean Office, supported the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) in hosting a three-day workshop on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) from April 05 to 07, 2011 at the GAWU Labour College. The decision to hold Health and Safety workshops in Caribbean countries arose out of an ILO meeting in Trinidad held from February 09 – 10, 2011, where a team of resource persons drawn from across the Caribbean met to formulate a plan for the implementation of a oneyear programme on OSH. GAWU submitted a proposal to the ILO Caribbean Office, which provided support in the form of a grant and three (3) resource persons – namely Anthony Rocheford, Pierre-Francois Recoing and Madhuri Seepersaud – for the conduct of the three-day workshop. Local resource personnel were drawn from the Union, its Labour College, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco), the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), and the Ministry of Labour. Thirty-three participants who attended the programme were drawn from GAWU, Guysuco, Caricom Rice Mills Limited, Noble House Seafoods, BEV Processors,
Berbice Bridge Company Inc, Demerara Timbers Limited, Guyana Forestry Commission, and the National Parks Commission. The programme’s objective was to “strengthen the capacity of constituents in the Caribbean to develop and implement programmes or improving Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and contributing to the environmental sustainability of small developing states”, The presentations, entitled: Introduction of OSH Programme for the Caribbean, Overview of OSH Issues in Guyana, the importance of OSH to the Enterprise, Introduction to ILO Conventions and Other Standards to OSH, Outline of the OSH Act, OSH Issues affected by the Forestry Sector, ILO Recommendations on HIV/AIDS and the World of Work, and Guysuco’s OSH Policy. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants became more knowledgeable on OSH matters. They were most pleased with the manner in which the presenters delivered their presentations. Gratitude was expressed to the ILO and GAWU for their support. The activity was considered as part of the observances. In Guyana, International Day of Occupational Safety and Health was observed on April 28, 2011.
INFORMATION CORNER | INFORMATION CORNER | INFORMATION CORNER
The Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act
Continued from last edition Concept of Unfair Dismissal The concept of unfair dismissal was introduced by the Act which provides a number of reasons which do not constitute good and sufficient cause for dismissal or the imposition of disciplinary action. The reasons are:1. an employee’s race, sex, religion, colour, ethnic origin, national extraction, social origin, political opinion, family responsibility, or marital status 2. an employee’s age, subject to any law or collective bargaining provisions regarding retirement 3. a female employee’s pregnancy or a reason connected with her pregnancy 4. an employee’s absence from work because of sickness or injury certified by a registered medical practitioner 5. an employee’s absence from work due to compulsory military service or other civic obligation in accordance with any law 6. an employee’s participation in industrial action in conformity with the provisions of any law or collective labour agreement 7. an employee’s refusal to do any work normally done by an employee who is engaged in industrial action as described in subsection (1) (f)
8. the filing by an employee of a complaint or the participation in proceedings against an employer involving alleged violations of any rule or law Grounds for Redundancy An employer can make a worker redundant because there is need to reduce the work force because of:1. the modernisation, automation or mechanization by the employer of all or part of the business 2. the discontinuance by the employer to carry on all or part of the business 3. the sale or other disposition by the employer of all or part of the business 4. the reorganisation of the business by the employer to improve efficiency 5. the impossibility or impracticability for the employer to carry on the business at its usual rate or level, or at all, due to: i) a shortage of materials; ii) a mechanical breakdown; iii)a force majeure or an act of God 6. a reduced operation in the employer business made necessary by economic conditions, including a lack of or change in markets, contraction in the volume of work or sales, reduced demand or surplus inventory Continued in the next edition Page Seven
GAWU’s call on May Day 2011
On this May Day, GAWU Greets:• • • •
All our GAWU members and their families; All Guyanese Working People and their Families; The International Working-Class and Oppressed People and their dependents; All Democratic-minded and freedom-loving peoples.
GAWU Extends Solidarity:• To workers world-wide who are victims of the capitalist economic crisis; who are, along with students and others, especially in the USA and Europe, fighting back with increasing and inspiring militancy against unemployment and under-employment, foreclosure of homes, severe austerity measures, drastic cuts of social benefits, interference of pensions schemes and erosion of trade-union rights; • To those peoples whose countries are subjected to imperialist wars and occupation, foremost among which are Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and forthrightly condemn those ruling classes of the developed world who use their military might to reign destruction and blatantly commit war crimes against poor, developing countries; • To those forces, particularly in Haiti and Honduras fighting for a return of genuine democracy; • And empathize with the victims of natural and man-made disasters and those countries badly affected by climate change; • To the countries of Latin-America which, like Venezuela, face tremendous challenges as they seek to forge an alternative to the capitalist neo-liberal model of development; • To the teeming millions of poverty-stricken peoples world-wide; • To the people and leadership of Cuba, a bastion of socialism and an outstanding example of proletarian internationalism; • To the people of Palestine as they struggle against Israel’s colonial-like occupation and apartheid policies. GAWU recognizes the positive development in several sectors of our society. We also welcome the new, innovative projects on stream which have the promise of furthering Guyana’s growth and development. GAWU also holds the view that there is much room for improvement of the workers lot and for lifting the quality of life of our working people. GAWU views with concern the anti-labour incidents of recent which have caused anxiety and distress among segments of the working-class, if not all workers. Among these is the recent threat by Guysuco to derecognize the GAWU after 35 years of recognition.
In the light of the present-day circumstances, GAWU calls:• • • • • • • •
On the present and future administrations, to be more assertive in protecting trade union and workers’ rights and gains; On officialdom, to be more supportive of workers’ demands and struggles to improve their workforce; For increases in wages to be always above the inflation rate; For a review of the taxation regime with a view to make it fair and less burdensome to working-people; For the enactment of a realistic national minimum wage and its yearly review; For measures to ensure a speedier settlement of NIS claims; On business entities to embrace and be guided by the slogan – ‘PEOPLE BEFORE PROFITS’; On the relevant authorities to ensure that development of our natural resources mainly benefit our country while significantly contributing to our people’s well-being; • For renewed and focused efforts to bring about a safe and secure society; • For workers to be increasingly placed in the decision-making process at all levels of society.
GAWU remains committed:• To Unity – National, Trade Union, Working People; • To the Interests of the Working Class; • To struggles for a society where the dignity of the working people is respected; where the ‘common good’ triumphs over individual greed; a society where man enjoys and benefits fully from his labour. The capitalist system is falling and falling. We, and the world, need an alternative.
Long Live May Day! Long Live the Workers of Guyana and the World! Unite and Struggle! COMBAT is a publication of the Guyana Agricultural & General Workers Union (GAWU) 59 High Street & Wights Lane, Kingston, Georgetown, Guyana, S.A. Tel: 592-227-2091/2; 225-5321 , 223-6523 Fax: 592-227-2093 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.gawu.net