On Wednesday morning number of workers attached to the Uitvlugt factory downed tools as they expressed their frustrations with the growing inefficient functioning of the factory. The workers who belong to both the GAWU and the NAACIE related that for many weeks now they have been expressing their concerns to the senior management of the estate and, it appeared, their concerns are falling on deaf ears.
Workers shared that muddied canes are being delivered to the factory which is creating several headaches. Previously, a washing system was utilized to remove, to a great extent, the mud, however, this apparently has become ineffective. Apart from that, the factory is suffering from severe and several defects. We warned earlier this year that at Uitvlugt no spares were procured and worn out components were lubricated and reinstalled during the mid-year out-of-crop period. They said they have raised these issues with several managers but nothing was done.
The lethargic attitude of some managers is very upsetting to the workers. They pointed out that they some difficulties experienced last Saturday evening (September 12) were not resolved until the next morning. They shared that though they sought the assistance of a senior factory personnel, that individual, who resides in the estate compound, only showed up the next morning. That individual’s inaction allowed the issue to persist for several hours to the detriment of the estate. Uitvlugt which is now in its fifth week of operations has already seen some 168 hours lost due to breakdown. This is in excess of a (1) week’s operations.
The GAWU, for some time now, has been highlighting the declining performance of the industry’s factories though there were concerted attempts, in recent times, to boost the factory operations department of the Corporation. It was felt that at least some improvement would have been seen by those who were held out as being most capable, this alas was not the case. And, it is the industry and by extension the workers who continue to suffer.
Arising from the workers protest, a meeting is scheduled between representatives from GAWU and NAACIE and the Estate’s Management to seek to iron out the difficulties which have arisen and contributed to the protest action. We are assured that the Corporation has taken the workers concerns seriously and will seek to get to the bottom of the issues.
On this score, we recognise that the Government has appointed a new Board and CEO. That board, which will include a representative from our Union, has its work cut out for it and seek to solve many of the problems which plague the industry. The GAWU extends its sincerest congratulations to the Board and CEO and wish them all successes. We are hopeful too that we can soon engage the new CEO on several matters of concern to the Union and workers.