At the height of the 2014 sugar cane harvest, 57 workers employed with Andrews Sugar Factory in St Joseph have been sent home and will not be spending many sweet days ahead.
The factory, which has been closed to facilitate the construction of a new state-of-the-art, multi-purpose facility, has chosen to make the positions of nearly half of its 121 staff redundant.
General manager of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), Leslie Parris, told Barbados TODAY the decision followed lengthy consultations since June last year with the Barbados Workers Union and the Sugar Industries Staff Association.
Parris, along with the technical manager of factories, John Goodman, and human resources manager Jacqueline Belgrave, met with the employees this morning to inform them of the arrangements for their redundancy. “Official communication related to the matter was issued to the relevant trade unions this morning,” the BAMC said in a statement in which it also assured that “ these  employees will receive . . . redundancy payments in accordance with legislation”.
“In addition, employees have been offered access to an employee assistance programme and will continue to benefit from the programme, following the closure of Andrews Factory,” it said.
Other workers will “be transferred to Portvale Factory, while in the interim, other employees came to the end of their fixed term contracts or retired”, the BAMC added.
As a result of Andrews’ closure, the only sugar factory in operation this year is Portvale in St James.
However, when the new state-of-the-art factory is created it is expected that Portvale will no longer be used for major sugar production.
Officials have promised that the new multi-purpose factory, which is due for completion in 2016, will help transform the local sugar industry into a sugar cane industry.
However, just yesterday, officials of the Barbados Sugar Industry Limited (BSIL) complained that they were yet to get a meeting with Minister of Agriculture Dr David Estwick to discuss that multi-purpose factory.
Speaking to reporters following the tour of the Portvale Sugar Factory, the recently appointed chairman of the BSIL, Patrick Bethel, said there was still no word from the Minister or his ministry regarding their concern.
Bethel said as a major contributor to the industry the members of the BSIL were still in the dark concerning the multimillion-dollar plan for the industry.
Last month, Ed Clarke, director of Barbados Farms Limited, which is a member of the BSIL, expressed frustration that local private sector players were left out of the planning for the creation of the new super factory to replace Andrews Sugar Factory in St Joseph.
Bethel told reporters: “All I know about the new factory is what I have read in the Press and what I have been able to glean from bits and bobs of places.
“I find it is very unfortunate that people who supply 60 per cent of the canes for the factory have had no say in the actual design, input or just cooperation on the factory. But we are working with what we have and we are very pleased with what we see.”