Wales closure fallout… says Wales workers right in demanding severance package… GAWU slams Govt for misinformation over severanceThe People’s Progressive Party (PPP) has again come to the defence of the hundreds of displaced cane harvesters of the Wales Sugar Estate, who over the past week have been clamouring for what they said are their well-deserved severance packages.The party, in a statement issued on Tuesday, condemned the “high-handed approach of Government in its dealings with the sugar industry” and pointed to the rigorous economic toll it is taking on the country.Alluding to the situation at the West Bank Demerara sugar factory, the PPP stressed that it does not support Government’s callous decisions.GAWU President Komal Chand“The cruelty of the Government is demonstrated by the treatment meted to the workers of Wales Estate. Having closed the industry without any consultations with the workers or their union, the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change Government had refused to comply with the Severance Pay Act. This forced the union to approach the courts for an order compelling [Guyana Sugar Corporation] GuySuCo to negotiate with the union”.The parliamentary Opposition said even after obtaining the order of the court, and following negotiations with the union, GuySuCo still refuses to pay the agreed severance packages to the workers, causing the current protest action.“The PPP strongly supports the workers in their just demand that their severance package be paid immediately and accordance with the law,” the Party said in a release on Wednesday.MisinformationMeanwhile, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has also lashed out at the Agriculture Ministry which on Monday stated that all redundant workers from Wales Estate were paid their severance payments.“The Ministry’s assertion is plainly misleading and our Union wonders whether the Ministry is intently misinforming the public. So far, less than a hundred workers, who are GAWU members, have received their severance pay. Those payments were settled belatedly last September rather than, as was expected, in late April 2016.As it regards the demand by the cane cutters and cane transport operators for their severance, GAWU is urging the Ministry and its advisers to acquaint themselves with the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA). There, it said they will quickly see that the workers’ entitlement for severance is upheld.“Moreover, we must reiterate that GuySuCo, in our Union’s presence, last December communicated to a number of workers that their jobs were redundant and they were entitled to severance, if they chose not to go to Uitvlugt. Here, we must point out that those workers who were already severed declined GuySuCo’s offer of going to Uitvlugt and demanded their severance which the company rightly obliged. We ask then why is a different ‘yardstick’ being applied to the current contingent of workers?” the Union questioned.GAWU said the Ministry and GuySuCo have also assured of the availability of company transportation for the workers. It said this is not a new idea since for decades now, sugar workers have been transported to work. Such a benefit, like others, came into being due to the struggles by workers in the past.The Union said its workers are labelled as disingenuous; however, that label best fits GuySuCo and, seemingly, the Agriculture Ministry.“There is no merger of Wales and Uitvlugt factory operations as asserted in the statement. The fact is that cane cultivation and sugar processing have ended at Wales and the estate is now sadly closed. No amount of semantics can wish away this depressing fact,” GAWU said.The Union said workers were concerned about their job security, and expressly called for Wales not to be closed in order to save their main source of livelihood.“They, at no time, promoted the transfer of their jobs some 22 miles away to Uitvlugt. Their call unfortunately fell on deaf ears and did not find favour with the Administration. Now, GuySuCo is seeking to rub salt in the deep wounds it inflicted by trampling on their right to severance pay and seeking to cover its insensitivity by resorting to hackneyed and old claim of ‘politically instigated”.“The Ministry’s statement also exclaims that there is no option than for the workers to accept employment at Uitvlugt”. GAWU said it was clear that the Ministry and those in charge are at “sea” or they have been receiving bad advice from the Sugar Corporation.“We urge that those in authority to note that Section 21(4) (b) of TESPA requires an employer to provide workers with their severance payments if the employer is unable to provide a similar job “at the same place of employment or within a radius of ten (10) miles therefrom under no less favourable conditions than those such employee enjoyed immediately prior to the termination”. The Sugar Corporation, by its actions, and the Ministry, by its insistence, are promoting positions that are contrary to law, apart from being unsympathetic to the workers’ welfare.GAWU, at this time, stands solidly with the workers and is supportive of their just demand”.
– Monica Harmon Los Angeles Think like Americans Your March 1 headline reads “Valley commuters score victory,” and Monday’s editorial is headlined “Victory for 405.” It sounds like a simple car-pool lane is a major accomplishment for mankind. Such braggadocio over a 10-mile traffic lane to serve 10 percent of commuters – and not to be completed for another six years – is absurd. This is America, the country that built the Panama Canal, Hoover Dam and the interstate freeway system and that sent man to the moon in about the same time to be taken to design and pour this pad of concrete. Let’s start thinking like Americans again and build it overnight for one-fourth the proposed cost and open it to all motorists alike. – Robert L. Rosebrock Brentwood Cardenas responds Re “`Fair’ politics” (Our Opinions, March 2): I represent Woodley Park and the many families surrounding the park who oppose having the four-day San Fernando Valley Fair in their backyards – and for good reason. Bottom line: While fair organizers were vying for the new Woodley Park location, they failed to mention to the community that alcohol would be served for four days straight, music would be playing until midnight, and the main traffic thoroughfares would be closed off. Not a good game plan in an area highly concentrated with families and children. Secondly, the fair board already has an existing contract with the city to host the event at Hansen Dam, a more appropriate location, this year as well as next year. In fact, the city put $70,000 into plumbing and electrical infrastructure there to accommodate the fair’s animals. We even waived fees and found additional parking for the event. Fair officials made the decision to leave. Maybe they thought making a buck was more important than considering community impacts. It shouldn’t only be about making money; it should be about how the San Fernando Valley Fair best serves the people of the San Fernando Valley. – Tony Cardenas Councilman, Los Angeles Thanks for nothing Re “`Fair’ politics” (Our Opinions, March 2): Your recent editorial supporting keeping the San Fernando Valley Fair in the Valley should have noted that the previous Hansen Dam site is actually located within Council District 7, whose seat is now vacant but possibly to be reclaimed by its former occupant, newly elected Assemblyman Richard Alarcón. Neither Alarcón nor Councilman Tony Cardenas did anything to retain the fair within the Valley. Quite the contrary, it was Cardenas’ political power play more than two months after the city signed the agreement to use Woodley Park that forced the fair to leave the Valley entirely. Thanks for nothing, guys. – Glenn Bailey Encino Anti-troop? There is proposed legislation to give troops proper equipment and training – for the first time during this war – that is being called anti-troop. How can this be? As the cousin of a man who led the first wave into Baghdad and survived a 14-month tour without proper body armor, I feel this has gone beyond all acceptable bounds. How can it be bad to give troops proper equipment and training? I can’t think of a single reason how this could be, and I am left baffled and horrified. We need to send a message to our politicians that this is unacceptable. – Alex Manugian Sherman Oaks Seems like a cop-out It would have been more realistic if President Bush had gone to the less-affluent parts of New Orleans that are still in shambles. Instead, he went to some rich person’s house that was rebuilt to talk about what has been accomplished. His remark that “if the rest of the city is having problems with the rebuilding, they should have the state contact the federal government” seemed a cop-out to me. – Donald Jolliff Van Nuys Needs a rewrite Re “Levine wants to put teeth in pet population control” (March 2): Lloyd Levine needs a new light bulb if he thinks his spay/neuter bill is going to reduce pet overpopulation while guaranteeing that any purebred dog or cat can remain intact. There is certainly no evidence that purebreds are healthier than mixed-breed pets, as verified by reports on puppy-mill puppies or by reviewing the genetic health defects rampant in purebred dog or cat bloodlines. This is nonsensical legislation, which proposes funding spay/neuter service for millions of dogs and cats statewide from $500 fines paid by lawbreakers who refuse – or perhaps can’t afford – to alter nonpapered pets within 30 days. Spaying and neutering pets, both mixed and purebreds, is a good thing. Levine needs to have the strength of his convictions, call it what it is, and write it so it works. – Denise A. Justin Los Angeles Marathons Re “New course a site to see” (March 5): I once lived in the San Fernando Valley, and as a former resident I was glad that the course of the marathon has begun a new era with the starting line moved to Universal City. I am also glad that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had to use extra trains to bus the runners and walkers from downtown L.A. to Universal City. Boy, what a sight to see! On that same day, I competed in the fifth running of the Little Rock Marathon in Little Rock, Ark. Let’s hope that they are held next year with both events running on the same day. – John Huerta Warren, Ark. Marathon head start I must say it came as a shock to me when I found out that women get a 20-minute head start in the L.A. Marathon. I find this somewhat sexist in an age of gender equality. Is Los Angeles guilty of admitting that females are the physically weaker sex and need special considerations? Does Los Angeles follow this policy when hiring females in physically demanding jobs, such as jobs of firefighters and police officers? – Jeff Shirey Woodland Hills Palmdale airport Re “Flight plan is taking shape” (March 3): Finally, after a very long time, something is being done to utilize Palmdale Regional Airport. Even though it may have a modest beginning, the potential for growth is wonderful. Good luck. – Cliff Hall Chatsworth160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Re “Valley sites to house homeless” (March 6): I have a question for Mayor Villaraigosa: Are you not aware that those sites where you want to build housing for the homeless are in gang-infested areas? By building those housing units in those areas, you are putting the citizens in jeopardy – by putting them in the middle of drive-by shootings and other violent crimes. In my opinion, there is a lack of common sense in building these units in the area that the mayor has indicated before cleaning up the gang problem. – Mort Sherman Woodland Hills Financial disclosure Re “Officials soft-pedal cop threat” (March 3): Councilman Bernard Parks states, “It was put into place to instill public confidence that we have an honest police force.” Because of Parks’ poor leadership and lack of management skills, the Rampart corruption scandal occurred right under his nose when he was chief, and the consent decree was implemented. The Los Angeles Police Department also lost 1,000 officers during Parks’ tenure. Now our LAPD officers are dealing with the consequences of Parks’ failure, and our city is at risk to lose more than 600 LAPD anti-gang and narcotics officers if asked to disclose their financial records. I wonder how our politicians would be reacting if they were asked to disclose their financial records.