More sugar workers to face redundancy today - Many will be re-employed in the sector, says Rickards
The anxiety surrounding the future of the local sugar industry should intensify today when some 384 sugar workers employed to the Chinese-owned PanCaribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) at the Frome Sugar Factory, in Westmoreland; and the Monymusk Sugar Factory, in Clarendon, are slated to lose their jobs via the redundancy route.
"It is going to be a sad day, redundancy money or not," said Westmoreland-based sugar worker Douglas Singh.
"The only life I know is a life in sugar ... while I understand that things and times are changing, I grew up in sugar and it is the only life I know."
In announcing the impending redundancies yesterday, Hanif Brown, an assistant island supervisor with the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union, said there has been dialogue between the PCSC and the affected workers - 279 at Monymusk and 105 at Frome - and an arrangement is in place for them to receive their notice pay on January 29 and their severance pay on February 12.
This latest round of redundancies comes sharply on the heels of similar exercises at other sugar factories such as Golden Grove, in St Thomas; the Appleton Estate, in Clarendon; and Long Pond, in Trelawny.
In fact, at Long Pond, which is owned and operated by Everglades Farm Limited, the factory will not be participating in the 2015-16 crop year and their future participation in the sector is uncertain.
When the PanCaribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) workers are made redundant today, it will lift the total number of sugar workers who have lost their jobs since last August to more 1,000.
The full breakdown is as follows: Pan Caribbean - 384, Golden Grove - 565, Appleton - 105, and Everglades -170.
However, while the affected workers are seemingly anxious about their immediate future, noted cane farmer Allan Rickards, the knowledgeable chairman of the All-Island Jamaica Cane Farmers' Association, said the current situation could well work in the favour of the affected workers.
"Many of the persons who are made redundant will be re-employed by the entities that the factories are contracting out some of their services to," said Rickards.
"So, it will be a case of them getting their redundancy payment and still having their jobs in the sector."