KINGSTON: Over 4,000 sugar workers have threatened to take industrial action following weeks of failed negotiations involving their unions and the Sugar Producers Federation (SPF) for improved wage and fringe benefits.
The three unions representing the workers and the SPF are at a stalemate in hammering out a wage and fringe benefits agreement after a meeting last week at the Ministry of Labour ended without a settlement.
The SPF has offered to increase wages by 7 per cent in year one and 3 per cent in the second year. However, this has been rejected by the unions.
First Vice President of the University and Allied Workers Union Clifton Grant says the SPF’s offer has angered the workers.
“The union wants a 13 per cent (increase) in the first year for the employees and an 8 and a half per cent in the second year,” said Grant. “The federation says they are not in a position to change. So we have communicated this to the employees. They are very upset. The feedback that we are receiving is that the workers wanted to take industrial action, but we have asked them to give the Ministry of Labour and the minister and opportunity to try and broker an agreement between the parties.”
However, the SPF insists the industry stands to lose millions during this crop season due to increased international competition. But the unions are insisting that they produce figures for both rum and sugar production to support the prediction.