Workers at Worthy Park Sugar Estate in Lluidas Vale, St. Catherine, who marched on the entity’s administrative offices nearly a week ago, are hoping for good news as wage negotiations resume at the Ministry of Labour today, October 15.
The company and its unionized employees have been at a deadlock over a proposed wage increase covering two years, including this year.
The workers are seeking a 10 percent increase in year one and 10 percent in year two. But the company is offering 5 percent in year one and 4 percent in year two.
Chief Delegate of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Arlene Thomas, is convinced that the company is in a position to meet the workers’ demand.
“We are demanding more. There is money in the company that they can pay, but they don’t want to pay. They just want to keep us in the slavery mentality and I keep saying that it is time we come out of that mentality. You can’t be investing in yourself and who is working hard you are not investing in them,” she said.
Thomas added that an overwhelming majority of people employed to the company are earning the national minimum wage, which is $7,000 per week.
She said: “Do you know that 90 percent of the workers who work at Worthy Park work minimum wage? That is what it is. They earn $1,487 a day. Persons who go home with $1,500 now can’t even buy a good night dinner if you decide to eat oxtail.
“You have workers who have their children going to high school and university. Gone are the days when sugar worker pickney a duh what daddy and mommy used to do. Things change,” Thomas further said.
She said the workers, who went on strike in August, are now on go-slow, and are expecting the company to improve its offer today. “I am hoping today they will let good sense prevail,” Thomas added.
Meanwhile, the management of Worthy Park Sugar Estate, represented by Gordon Clarke, was in earshot late last week when the workers gathered at the company’s main office to fume – as is shown in the above amateur video, which was edited to exclude expletives.
Clarke, in relation to the negotiations, told the workers: “It is a process; we are moving forward nicely now. If you guys want to disrupt it…disrupt it… I do understand your frustration and I do understand that you don’t want to strike, and I understand that we don’t want you to strike, so let us cooperate. The process is moving. It had been moving slowly, but we are now at the Ministry of Labour…”
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