JAMAICA-Job cuts

More than 200 sugar workers being made redundant this week

KINGSTON –– The positions of more than 200 employees of the Bernard Lodge sugar estate in St Catherine are being made redundant this week, the Jamaica Observer has learnt.

The redundancies were scheduled to take effect yesterday, a decision relayed to trade unions representing the workers at a meeting with representatives of Pan Caribbean Sugar Company (PCSC) on December 5.

More than 200 sugar workers to lose jobs.
More than 200 sugar workers to lose jobs.

Pan Caribbean –– the Chinese firm which in 2011 took control of Jamaica’s main sugar factories in Frome, Monymusk and Bernard Lodge Estate –– informed the unions of its decision to move into a new management arrangement with an unnamed Westmoreland firm by year-end.

The company said that 215 workers would have been made redundant on December 17, and that notice and redundancy payments would be made to them on Monday, December 22.

But, according to Harold Brown, assistant island supervisor of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), since that meeting the unions’ consultations had led to some “serious” reservations about PCSC’s real intentions.

He said in light of that, the unions had called on Pan Caribbean to put the redundancies on hold until the issues were resolved.

Brown said the unions were concerned that given the terms and conditions of PCSC’s lease agreement with the government for sugar lands at Bernard Lodge Estate, the unions had not confirmed that the Jamaican government had consented to any form of divestment at Bernard Lodge. Additionally, he said that unions had been reliably informed that PCSC had not received approval from the Sugar Company of Jamaica’s Holdings to divest the operations.

The unions –– the BITU, the University and Allied Workers’ Union, and the National Workers’ Union –– had told Pan Caribbean that they were ready to meet with its representatives, again, to resume discussions on the issues.

Pan Caribbean has said that it will be establishing 3,000 additional hectares of sugar cane at Monymusk, Clarendon, where its sugar lands are said to be underutilized. The Pan Caribbean head office at Bernard Lodge is also expected to move to Monymusk.

Source: (Jamaica Observer)

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