Progress appears to have been made in crucial talks surrounding the operations of this island’s vital sugar crop, which reportedly should begin on March 17.
After meeting today with management of the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited, the Barbados Workers Union said it expected a speedy response from the employers to outstanding issues which it placed on the table.
Describing the discussions as cordial, General Secretary of the BWU, Sir Roy Trotman told Barbados TODAY the outstanding matters which both sides examined related to the hours the workers would be required to give, considering there was only one sugar factory currently in operation.
Sir Roy said they also looked at the level of waiting time for people hauling canes and how employees would be compensated in the event they had to remain on the job for long hours “doing nothing” and being at the behest of management.
“I expect a response to come as soon as possible,” the veteran trade union leader declared. He told this newspaper, too, that payment for general field workers, was a focal point as well.
Projections are that Barbados will reap about 13,000 more tonnes of sugar cane this year than it did last year.
However, officials in the sector caution that the yearly fall in sugar from each tonne of cane cut, continues to be a big worry.
The country, which had one of the biggest sugar industries in the world from its early days in the 1640s and multiple factories, has seen a gradual decline in factories and production, with projections that it could reap 185,000 tonnes of cane from 10,400 acres this year.
That is an increase from the 172,000 tonnes recorded last year, which produced a mere 17,000 tonnes of sugar; and not enough to meet the island’s domestic and export needs.
But the start of the crop has not been without its challenges – and controversies. Last week, Sir Roy described as irresponsible, certain statements that the BWU was to blame for an earlier delay in the start of the harvest.