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Sugar Deal Turns Sour
At an assembly of former cane farmers and sugar workers at the Rienzi Complex last Sunday, all the speakers on the platform showed that the policy of the Partnership Government for former sugar workers and cane farmers is not the policy of the United National Congress (UNC). In fact, it is a continuation of the policy of the former government.
The People’s National Movement (PNM) government and the sugar union entered a VSEP agreement to give to sugar workers compensation for their years of employment in the sugar industry. The Government and the union agreed that the sugar workers would get part payment of their compensation in residential and agricultural lands. The union agreed with the Government that the workers would get a lease of both the agricultural land and the residential land.
The workers were not part of this agreement. This agreement was made without the union seeing a copy of the proposed lease. The workers rejected this aspect of the agreement to get leases but had to accept it as the union was authorised under the Industrial Relations Act to bind the workers in the agreement.
The workers’ position was that the lands were part of their compensation and they were therefore entitled to get deeds of conveyance to own the lands and not leases for the Government to be owner of the lands. The UNC in opposition took the position that since it could not change the leases to a deed of conveyance, it undertook that if it got back in government, it would effect that change.
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