BAMC: Strike puts sugar industry at risk

The Barbados Agricultural Management Co. Ltd. (BAMC) is warning that the sugar industry is at risk as a result of the strike action taken by workers at the Portvale Sugar Factory today.

General Manager Leslie Parris says while BAMC respects the union’s right to take industrial action as it considers appropriate, the current court of action has severe repercussions.

“We are concerned that this action will put our sugar industry and our local economy at great risk. The crop is going very well and sugar cane farmers were delivering 2400 tonnes of sugar cane a day to the lone factory at Portvale. Shutting down the crop through strike action will therefore impact cash flow in the sugar farming industry to the tune of $144, 000 a day,” he said in a statement this afternoon.

“Moreover, given the upcoming Easter break, we would only have received cane up to Wednesday afternoon next week.  If we do not get back into operation at the factory by tomorrow, it could result in an extended break in production till after Easter and significant losses to sugar workers, the farming community and haulage contractors.”

The BAMC statement indicated that management only knew workers would go on strike when they received verbal communication from the union.

“To date the BAMC has received no written notification from the BWU of this strike and the reasons for this action,” it said.

BWU General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman – who called out the workers in solidarity with 57 terminated workers of the Andrews Factory – said the BAMC had sent home the Andrews staff in the middle of negotiations for enhanced severance packages and other issues.

But the BAMC said it had 10 months of consultation with the BWU, and all of the affected employees would receive redundancy payments in accordance with legislation.

It said it was not in a position to offer workers enhanced packages. (DP)

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