Hindu community lobbies Indian High Commissioner to resolve issue

first_imgIndian High Commissioner to Guyana Venkatachalam MahalingamGPC Leader, Pandit Rudra SharmaGHDC Vice President Pandit Jagmohan PersaudIndian High Commissioner to Guyana Venkatachalam Mahalingam is being lobbied to provide assistance in resolving the holiday timing controversy, which has caused a division in the local Hindu community, most notably during the celebrations of hallmark events like Diwali and Phagwah.Massive confusion erupted last year after two Hindu organisations in the country failed to find middle ground on the date for the Festival of Lights – Diwali. This disagreement rolled over into the new year for the Festival of Colours – Phagwah, with the celebration being observed on two days. This again will be the case for Diwali celebrations 2016.The Guyana Hindu Dharmic Sabha (GHDS) has declared that October 30 is the true date for the celebration of the holiday, while the Guyana Pandits Council (GPC) is holding out that it is October 29.Restore harmonyIn an effort to settle the controversy in order to restore harmony among Guyanese Hindus, the organisations have taken a decision to seek the intervention of an expert from India.The yet-to-be selected expert, who must be a member of the board responsible for setting national holidays in India and an astrologer, will be responsible for conducting his own study and making his own assessment of when the holidays ought to be held, and both organisations are hopeful that his pronouncement will be timely so as to avoid controversy next year.GHDS Vice President, Pandit Jagmohan Persaud, during an interview with  Guyana Times on Tuesday, explained that the Indian High Commissioner responded via telephone after several requests were made.The organisations were still awaiting an official written response from the High Commission, pledging its assistance in this regard.Pandit Persaud expressed high hopes that by next year, the issue would be resolved.GPC Leader, Pandit Rudra Sharma, during a telephone interview with this newspaper also shared similar views.“It is extremely important to us to have this issue resolved, because it is dividing the Hindu community. It is not looking good and we would like to have this resolved as early as possible,” he stated.last_img read more

GuySuCo to close LBI operations

first_imgGuySuCo 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.last_img read more