Merging of LBI/Enmore Estates“We want wages!” and “No merging!” were the echoing sounds of sugar workers as they took their protest action to the Ministry of the Presidency on Tuesday. This action comes in light of their frustrations over the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) finalising its decision to merge the La Bonne Intention (LBI) and Enmore estates. About 100 workers and their union representatives braved theGAWU President Komal Chand standing on the picket lineSugar workers and union representatives want more dialogue with GuySuCoThe protesters outside the Ministry of the Presidency on Tuesdaymorning rains, and continued to denounce what they described as “bullyism” and “hostility” meted out to them by GuySuCo.According to the protesters, La Bonne Intention (LBI) workers are being “treated like footballs” by management and they are calling on Government to ensure that the Sugar Corporation engages in more dialogue with its workers. It was related that the workers are concerned with how some of their fellow colleagues have been transferred and it was noted that their rates of pay at Enmore are lower than what they currently receive at LBI. This publication was told that this figure moved from $2100 per day to $700 per day.Many of the protesters, who have not performed duties in over one week, exclaimed that they are not prepared to move to the Enmore estate.“It got over 2700 hectares cane plant in LBI and LBI people (workers) must remain at LBI. It got fertiliser, spraying and cane cutting; it got all work over at LBI,” expressed Balkissoon Ramdasoon.He also decried the Sugar Corporation’s treatment of workers and noted that the entity is trying to “cripple” their representative, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU).“Them seh you [have to work] at Enmore but when you go over, no [work is there]…dem only frustrating de workers,” Ramdasoon stressed, noting that eight months into 2016, workers have not seen any increase in wages.“You claim yo mek 247,000 tonnes sugar last year, you pass the target… eight months [we] deh in; GuySuCo is trying to cripple the union but we standing up with our union [and] we gonna stand up until betterment reach,” the frustrated man pointed out.One Enmore worker who joined the picket line claimed that the current wages workers are receiving, cannot meet their needs.“Me want de President fo call on GuySuCo to come out and talk to the people [so that they] could go back to work,” the Enmore worker expressed.However, some LBI workers said that moving to Enmore signals that they would have to spend more time travelling and stated that GuySuCo ought to pay out severance packages.“Leh deh close it down and pay people they lil money!” a female sugar worker expressed. A male nearby exclaimed: “To go to Enmore you have to wake up one hour in front of time, one hour late, you meet back home and more time for you waste,” the protester stressed.Meanwhile, GAWU President, Komal Chand, who stood in solidarity with the sugar workers, claimed that Noel Holder is the first Agriculture Minister who has not engaged the Union and by extension, sugar workers, in open dialogue since the sector was nationalised in 1976.“I personally asked the Minister to engage us [but] he has never…we had been able to meet all the Ministers in the PNC (People’s National Congress) Government, under President Hoyte and President Burnham and all the other Presidents but this Minister is behaving in a queer way, in that he is not wanting to meet with the Union – no dialogue, no discussion,” Chand postulated.The veteran sugar representative further explained that he is hopeful that GuySuCo will meet with GAWU to discuss the matters at hand.“We cannot allow this situation go on like this…we are looking forward to immediate discussions between the Union and GuySuCo to address the issues where they are violating even the law, not only the agreement, in the forceful nature of the merger of LBI with Enmore,” Chand pointed out.Meanwhile, some workers said they feel “embarrassed” that the Minister doesn’t want to meet with them. GAWU in a statement claimed that in “recent months”, there has been an erosion of their “gains and benefits” which were secured by workers after “hard and bitter struggles”.