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…workers’ request to meet with Agri Minister unansweredCane planters attached to the East Demerara (Enmore Estate) have said they will not bend to the demands of the Guyana Sugar Cooperation (GuySuCo) to become cane harvesters, and is requesting pay for the four weeks they have been without a job.The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), during a press conference on Tuesday, informed the media that it would continue to support the 75 affected workers.Some of the affected cane planters at the press conferenceGAWU’s General Secretary, Seepaul Narine, who was joined by several of these workers, at the Union’s headquarters, stated that cane-cutting assignments were not among the usual tasks, which the planters were given whenever they were not required to plant canes.Seepaul said that a delegation from the Union met with members of GuySuCo’s Industrial Relations Department and the estate management on March 24, 2017. It was agreed then that the planters would be offered alternative work in the areas of the factory, rat baiting, infield weeding, and canal cleaning.“Contrary to the undertaking, the workers, on their arrival to work on March 27, 2017, were advised by the management of the estate that only cane-cutting tasks would be provided to them. In addition to this violation of an understanding agreed upon in a matter of days, the workers are calling on GuySuCo to give them the required payment for the days GuySuCo has denied them work opportunities,” Seepaul explained.Cane planter Brian Norville explaining to the media how GuySuCo’s decision has affected him and his familyThe Union’s General Secretary strongly believes that the planters are being given a “raw deal” and described GuySuCo’s move as unlawful and unsympathetic.“The Corporation’s adamant stance that they must cut canes, which for them is difficult due to several factors, is reminiscent of the dark past in the sugar industry. The workers have related to our Union that they have their families to take care of and the Corporation’s stance is surely going to contribute to an already trying situation in the home for ends to meet,” Seepaul said.The Union noted that workers were also perturbed that a request by GAWU to meet with Agriculture Minister Noel Holder to discuss their concerns remained unanswered.During a meeting with Minister within the Social Protection Ministry, Keith Scott on March 27, GAWU was told to discuss the issue with Minister Holder. But weeks have passed since GAWU wrote Holder and the Union was yet to receive a response or invitation.One of the cane planters, Brian Norville, explained how he was affected by the decision taken by GuySuCo. He said four weeks without work was troubling, as he was the breadwinner for his family.Norville used the opportunity to call on President David Granger and Minister Holder to treat the issue with some urgency, so that they could return to work soon.“We are living in a society where we expected the Government of the day should be concerned about its fellow citizen…To know the Minister not even showing his face or even pay us any attention while our family is starving,” Norville complained.GAWU noted that the cessation of cane planting, which GuySuCo said was temporary, pointed to the estate’s possible closure.The Union is also of the view that the Government’s proposals to close Enmore and Rose Hall Estates and to sell Skeldon Estate were becoming more and more a reality.GuySuCo is facing major financial issues and has been engaged in major restructuring.