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Contract cane harvesters want to contribute to NIS

first_imgFired cane harvesters who were made redundant and then rehired after the Rose Hall and Skeldon Estates reopened their doors have expressed concern over the arrangements they are forced to work under.Some of these workers are reportedly not covered under the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) recently gave out contracts to independent firms thus signalling the end of the trade union movement in the sector. This, cane cutters complain, is against the law, since they are already being exploited.The rewarding of contracts to independent contractors would mean that the workers would not be employed by GuySuCo and eligible for the benefits that go with such employment.Apart from no union representation, the workers are concerned that they now cannot benefit from NIS as they did in the past.Eustace Hunte, one of the workers fired from the Skeldon Estate who now works on a field at Palmyra, told Guyana Times that with no NIS coverage, he feels unprotected.“We suppose to get NIS. If we get chop while working here, we have nothing to get,” Hunte related. “We have to take care of ourselves because if anything happen to us, they don’t have anything to give us.” More than 4500 sugar workers were made redundant by GuySuCo last year. These workers were mainly from the Skeldon, Rose Hall and Enmore Estates and are being paid severance. Hunte says as workers they need to feel safe. “There is no safety,” he reiterated.As such, he is suggesting that arrangements be put in place for them to pay a percentage of the NIS contribution while the contractor pays the remainder as was previously done by GuySuCo.More worrying is the fact that the harvesters are being paid a flat price per tonne of cane irrespective of how bad the fields are and the distance workers must travel to the estate. Nevertheless, the workers related that they are paid at a rate of $1000 per ton of cane.Hunte related that with GuySuCo they were given $300 extra per bed when harvesting in difficult circumstances. In addition, the workers will not benefit from any of the allowances that were paid to them when they were employed by GuySuCo.Sources close to GuySuCo told this publication that plans were moving apace to have some of the fired workers become contractors.last_img read more

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