Thursday, October 12, 2006

Narine promises probe into feeds centre accident

By Adrian Boodan

Minister of Agriculture Jarrette Narine has promised a full investigation into Tuesday’s accident in which a worker lost a leg at the Sugarcane Feeds Centre (SFC).
Tadil Hosein, of Main Road, Longdenville, was operating foraging equipment at the Pokhor Road, Longdenville, operations of the SFC when his leg got into the blades of the machine.

He was taken to the Chaguanas Health Centre and subsequently transferred to the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex at Mount Hope, where he underwent surgery on Tuesday night.

Following the mishap, the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers’ Trade Union (ATSGWTU), the body representing the 75 SFC employees, instructed union members to stop work until health and safety requirements at the centre were met.

Operations at the SFC were shut down yesterday, when representatives of the ATSGWTU met with Narine at the compound.

Rudy Indarsingh, head of the union, said the ATSGWTU would also be launching its own investigation into the mishap.

Indarsingh said Narine agreed to step up health and safety measures at the 30-year-old research facility and to look into the immediate appointment of a human resource officer to fill a post which has been vacant since the first quarter of this year.

Indarsingh said Hosein and his family would also be receiving counselling while the ATSGWTU would be calling on the SFC to pay his medical bills, as well as the cost of his rehabilitation.

Indarsingh said the union has proposed that the victim be fitted with an artificial limb.

As to the SFC’s 30th anniversary celebrations, Indarsingh said the ATSGWTU would not try to stop the activity at the SFC since the union is all about promoting the growth of T&T’s agricultural sector.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Call for child labour policy

Phoolo Danny-Maharaj South Bureau

Monday, June 12th 2006

THE All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union (ATSGWTU) is calling on Government to elaborate on a  clear and effective policy for the eradication and prevention of child labour in Trinidad and Tobago.

World Day Against Child Labour is celebrated today.

Union president Rudranath Indarsingh is further demanding that Government define immediate action toward the urgent elimination of the worst forms of child labour, according to the ILO Conventions 138 and 182.

He said Government, through the Ministries of Social Development and National Security, must ensure that the children of the country are protected and not be forced into activities such as human trafficking, prostitution, pornography, or illegal activities.

Reflecting on the recent criminal abuse that caused the death of Sean Luke and Amy Emily Anamanthudo.
Indarsingh said Government policies must be appreciated and supported by all the social actors, such as workers,  employers and non-governmental organisations.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Heavy rains delay sugar crop

By Leah Mathura-Dookhoo

The sugar cane season, which was supposed to begin yesterday, has been put on hold for another week, owing to bad weather and floods over the past month.

Yesterday, CEO of the Sugar Manufacturing Company Ltd (SMCL) Andre Guyadeen said the situation is worse than in years past, as fields are now saturated with water.

Guyadeen said while next Monday has been set for the start of the crop season by the SMCL, officials from the Sugar Industry Team (SIT) are monitoring the situation.

“This weather had caused us a lot of losses, but we are hoping we will make up for it in April,” Guyadeen said.

He refused to state the monetary extent of those losses.

Guyadeen said staffers, farmers and contractors were gearing up for a bumper season yesterday morning, however the heavy floods in central and south Trinidad lead to the postponement.

“The ground could take no more water. We are hopeful that things will get better next week,” he said.

Public relations officer of the Trinidad Islandwide Cane Farmers Association (TICFA) Lallan Rajaram, said yesterday that he too was disappointed over the delay in the start of the crop as farmers were the ones losing out financially.

Rajaram explained that even though the season did not start on its stipulated date, transport contractors and SMCL employees were protected by a guarantee agreement which will see them receive their monthly salaries.

But this is not the same for farmers.

“The last time a farmer got a cheque from SMCL was in August. With that money he had to take care of this family, his crop and his equipment. So, you see the problems they are in,” Rajaram said.

“Cane farmers have been waiting for the longest while for the start of the season, now with changing weather patterns they have to wait longer. The whole thing about sugar is that it needs dry weather.”

Rajaram remains doubtful that the season will begin in the next two weeks.

He said it was because of this TICFA submitted a written proposal to Agriculture Minister Jarrette Narine on Wednesday calling for an increase in the price of cane per tonne.

He said this was done in an effort to assist farmers who have suffered great losses since the beginning of the year.

But, Rajaram said when the issue was brought up during a meeting on Friday with SIT led by Wayne Innis, his members were told that they were not aware that a proposal had been handed in for an increase in the price of cane.

Rajaram said while SMCL’s target for the year is 600,000 tonnes of canes which will produce 60,000 tonnes of sugar, he is doubtful that it will materialise.

“We have never reached that goal and with all the problems we’re having I don’t think it will happen.”

Realistically, he said, for 2006, farmers can produce 45,000 tonnes of sugar from 450,000 tonnes of cane.

At present, cane farmers receive $180 per tonne for canes sold to the SMCL. They are now calling for $218.

Meanwhile, president general of the All Trinidad Sugar and General Workers Trade Union, (ATSGWTU), Rudranath Indarsingh said the failure of the crop to begin came as no surprise, since the industry is run by a group of energy experts who have no background in agriculture.