The Barbados Agricultural Society (BAS) boss has a strong message for those involved in negotiations for sugar workers: stop playing Russian roulette with the economy and get the sugar crop started. Chief executive officer James Paul says it’s too important to continue delaying it any longer.
“I really think that the parties involved need to recognize that whatever negotiations have to be conducted, get them over with. This is not the time to play song and dance and play Russian roulette with people’s lives and the economy, and with a whole sector,” he told Barbados TODAY, as the country awaits the start of the harvest which was initially to be the end of last month.
“What people don’t understand is that the agriculture sector needs sugar to survive and when people continually, on an annual basis, play Russian roulette with it, it does not help investment in the industry.”
The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) has been representing sugar workers and has been in talks with the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited (BSIL) on a range of outstanding matters related to the hours the workers would be required to give, considering there is only one sugar factory at Portvale, St Thomas, in operation; the waiting time for people hauling canes; how employees will be compensated in the event they have to remain on the job for long hours “doing nothing”; and payment for general field workers.
Yesterday union officials met with BSIL mangement, and BWU general secretary Sir Roy Trotman reported that the discussions were cordial and he was expecting a speedy response on those matters. He has insisted that the BWU is not responsible for the delay in the start of the harvest.