Thousands of Jamaican sugar workers threaten industrial action

The three unions representing the workers and the Sugar Producers Federation (SPF) are still at a stalemate in hammering out a wage and fringe benefits agreement as a marathon meeting on Friday at the Ministry of Labour ended without a settlement.

The SPF has offered to increase wages to 7 percent in year one and 3 percent in the second year. This, however, has been rejected by the unions.

 First Vice President of the University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU) Clifton Grant says the SPF’s offer has only served to anger the workers.

“The union wants a 13 percent (increase) in the first year for the employees and an 8 and a half percent in the second year. The federation says they are not in a position to change. So we have communicated this to the employees. They are very 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,” Grant said.

However, the SPF is insisting that 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.

Another meeting is scheduled be held on Thursday at the Ministry of Labour.

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