GuySuCo to fully close LBI operations– 800 workers to join 1700 from Wales on breadlineBy Devina SamarooSome 800 workers may lose their jobs as the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) moves to shut down the remaining operations at the La Bonne Intention (LBI) Sugar Estate, making this the second sugar estate to be closed within a year under the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition government.The two trade unions representing workers, the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), met with GuySuCo on April 12 where the announcement was made; according to a joint press statement of the unions.During the discussions, GuySuCo informed of the decision to have operations of the Field Workshop, Mill Dock, Field Lab, Stores and Administrative Offices at the LBI Estate to be merged with similar operations at the Enmore Estate, the unions stated.In 2011, GuySuCo under the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) administration, had closed the LBI Sugar Factory however the Corporation had assured that the other operations of the Estate would remain functioning.GAWU President Komal Chand in an invited comment to Guyana Times expressed that the Sugar Corporation has “once again changed its commitment and position”.Both unions have since expressed utter surprise at this decision by GuySuCo.“When the LBI factory was closed and its workers were transferred to Enmore Factory, both unions were assured by a member of the current Interim Management that there will be no closure of any other department after the closure of the factory. Thus, it was never expected that the Corporation under the same management could decide to dismantle the costly buildings at LBI Estate and end the operations which it approved about five years ago,” the unions asserted.Though GuySuCo assured that workers will be deployed to the Enmore Estate, both unions are doubtful that full-time and regular employment will be available.Chand explained to Guyana Times that the Enmore Estate already has a full complement of workers therefore, it is likely it does not have the capacity to accommodate 800 more employees.Both unions explained that during the meeting, GuySuCo did not disclose when the operations would be closed nor was vital information about employees’ future provided.“It is a similar experience to that of Wales where the company, to date, has failed to provide full information on the status of the future of 1700 workers from Wales Estate,” the unions observed.Earlier this year, GuySuCo announced the closure of Wales Estate by yearend and that some workers will be deployed to the Uitvlugt Estate while the others would be made redundant.GuySuCo and the Agriculture Ministry are yet to devise a plan for the future of the affected sugar workers.Notably, the closures of both estates follow assurances by government that no estate will be shut down anytime soon.In fact, following the announcement of the closure of Wales Sugar Estate, government promised that no other estate will be shut down.The closures also come on the heels of a multimillion dollar Commission of Inquiry report which advised against closure of any sugar estate or operations at this time.Meanwhile GAWU and NAACIE have expressed hope that the “unsavoury and oppressive” situation at the Wales Sugar Estate is not repeated at LBI Estate.The unions are also calling on the Sugar Corporation to revisit its decision on the full closure of LBI Estate.GuySuCo’s responseMeanwhile, GuySuCo released a statement shortly after expressing disappointment over the Union’s position.According to the Sugar Corporation, both unions were well aware from the inception that the complete closure of the LBI was in the making.“Since in 2011, GuySuCo, GAWU and NAACIE met with each worker in the LBI factory over a five-day period to discuss the closure of the LBI factory and their redeployment. The factory was then closed in the same year and workers were redeployed to other positions within the Enmore Estate. In some instances, the authorised manning levels were exceeded to accommodate the workers,” the Sugar Corporation stated.GuySuCo explained that the integration process was not fully completed, since there were still two Mill Docks, two Field Workshops, two Field Laboratories, two Field Offices and two stores within the East Demerara Estate operations.Therefore, GuySuCo pointed out that the recent meeting was basically to discuss the completion of the integration.In fact, the Sugar Corporation said that the process should have been completed since 2011.Moreover, GuySuCo stated that the state of affairs must be compared with the Albion Estate which produces more than twice the amount of sugar as produced by the East Demerara Estates and operates efficiently with one Mill Dock, one Field Workshop, and one Field Laboratory.Against this backdrop, GuySuCo said it was strange that, having been involved in the integration process over the years and having made commitments to see the completion of the process, the two unions would now issue a contradictory statement to the press.
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Sanjita Khumukcham in action during the 48kg weightlifting competition in GlasgowSanjita Khumukcham and Mirabai Chanu Saikhom bagged a gold and silver, respectively, in women’s 48kg weightlifting in a display of overwhelming domination to open India’s medal account on the opening day of the competition in the 20th Commonwealth Games on Thursday.Sanjita won with a total lift of 173kg (77+96) while Mirabai grabbed the silver with a cumulative effort of 170 (75+95) in the absence of other strong competitors.Nigerai’s Nkechi Opara was a distant third with 162 (70+92).Sanjita’s total of 173kg missed the Games record, held the name of 2010 CWG gold winner Augustina Nkem Nwaokolo (175kg effort) by two kilograms. Sanjita’s 77kg effort in snatch however equalled Nwaokolo’s Commonwealth Games record.The contest was all but over at the halfway snatch stage with 20-year-old Sanjita and 19-year-old Mirabai lifting 77kg and 75kg while Opara could come up with 70kg. The Nigerian’s attempt to give a fight to the Indian duo failed as she could not lift 75kg in her third attempt in snatch.Mirabai Chanu Saikhom in action during the 48kg weightlifting competition in GlasgowShe started on 72kg and then straightaway lifted 77kg, not dropping any weight in snatch. Mirabai failed in her first attempt to lift 75kg but achieved success in her third attempt.It was basically a contest between the two Manipuris in an event which India had dominated for long in the Commonwealth Games from the days of Kunjarani Devi.Kunjarani, now a women’s coach, was beside the two state mates on the platform, egging Sanjita and Mirabai in her vernacular language. India had won a silver and bronze in this category in 2010.advertisementThe clean and jerk contest went on almost similar lines with Sanjita and Mirabai taking the bar and the bell after most of their opponents had exhausted their attempts below the 90kg entry weight of the two Indians.