Monday, February 2, 2009

No resolution in sight for sugar strike

The Sugar Cane Industry Control Board met in Orange Walk today for five hours but the news tonight is that cane farmers are still on strike. They have been on strike since Tuesday when farmers stopped delivering cane to Tower Hill in protest of the core sampling unit. The strike has crippled production at the factory and is now threatening Belize’s ability to meet its quota. That’s why today representatives from the Cane Farmers Association and the Belize Sugar Industries Limited met with Chairman of the Industry Control Board Nemencio Acosta in the hopes of solving it today. But in the end, it didn’t work; the impasse stands, and the general strike remains in effect. 7NEWS was in Orange Walk to find out why.

Keith Swift Reporting: In the broiling sun, the farmers waited in front of the Sugar Cane Industry Control Board’s office on Fonseca Street for four hours. In the end – they got the bad news.
Eric Eck, Chairman – Sugar Cane Farmers Asociation: "There has been no resolution up to now and the cane farmers that you see here that are gathered, they have said that they will permanently go on strike until the core sampler is totally removed.”

Eric Eck – the Chairman of the Sugar Cane Farmers Association says it wasn’t because they didn’t try. He says they tried to compromise. Eric Eck,“We had a proposal from the cane farmers to suspend the core sampler. Nevertheless we almost reached to an agreement in which the core sampler was going to be suspended for this year and the cane farmers were going to be paid the way they were used to, accordingly 36 for Corozal and 34.50 for Orange Walk. But I must state that the coring was still going to go in effect but the farmers were not going to be paid based on their quality. And we as the cane farmers, we pass a resolution whereby we stated that for this and next year, for the first two years coming, the payment by quality would not be in effect. Only at the second and the third payment the quality, the farmers that deserve extra bonus will be given. But after analyzing all that procedure, I noticed that farmers will still be affected. I must say that we know that we must work under quality but the way that it has been implemented is not the correct one because the core sampler was brought before bringing any assistance to the cane farmers out there in the fields and that is what cane farmers are demanding. They are demanding assistance in the fields, they are demanding technicians and afterwards we can think of quality. But up to now, no.”

Protesters warn of chaos in Guadeluope

Striking workers in Guadeloupe have warned of social chaos if the government in Paris and local business leaders fail to meet their demands. An alliance of 47 unions and local bodies launched their protest on January 20, over the cost of living. They are pressing for lower taxes, a 200 euro (US $255) salary increase and a cut in petrol prices by 50 euro cents per litre.
The French minister for overseas territories Yves Jego is on the island for talks aimed at ending the industrial action. The strike has shut down most shops on the island, with the few which remain open rapidly running out of goods. Public transport and state services have also ground to a halt. All petrol stations have been closed in a parallel protest by gas station owners who are angry at the arrival of newcomers to the market.

Opposition criticizes sugar imports in Guyana
Guyana's opposition leader Robert Corbin has criticized the government's decision to import sugar to meet a shortfall in production. The Guyana Sugar Company is expecting a shipment of 2000 tons of sugar from Guatemala shortly.
But the agriculture minister Robert Persaud told the local media Caribbean that the local sugar industry is in serious financial trouble and needs to take full advantage of the price on the European market. He explained that while Guyana will receive $650 per ton for its sugar exports to the EU, it will be importing the commodity at just under $400 per ton.

No comments: