Weir: Workers now have real ownership in sugar industry

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Nutritional Security Indar Weir has announced that for the first
time in Barbados’ history there will be real ownership in the sugar industry for the workers.

Weir made this distinction in the House of Assembly earlier today during the Estimates Debate,
where he emphasised the importance of sugar workers being enfranchised in Barbados.
He said “My view is that when the full transition is completed, for the first time in our entire
existence workers in the sugar industry are becoming owners. A sugar industry with workers
becoming owners has to be the real deal and it takes a Government; it takes people and
members of a Cabinet to care about people to be able to agree that the workers of the sugar
industry should become owners over and beyond the traditional ownership. This to my mind
represents the greatest piece of enfranchisement to ever take place in this hemisphere.”

The Chairman of Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC), Ambassador Clyde
Mascoll informed Parliament that 11,002 people so far have been identified as entitled to the
twenty percent equity in the two companies running the sugar industry: Barbados Energy and
Sugar Company Inc. (BESC) and the Agricultural Business Company Ltd (ABC).
Asked to provide further detail on the Ministry’s progress to transition the state owned
enterprise, Mascoll said that the matter was really down to the ability to embrace the knowledge
of those working in the sector.

“No one individual can come from any part of Barbados or any part of the world and believe that
he or she has the knowledge when the people who actually work in these institutions are the
ones with the knowledge and only need guidance,” Mascoll explained. “As a consequence of
that we have been able to empower workers above and beyond simply coming to work, we ask
for their knowledge and we use that to transform the BAMC.”
He continued “As I speak to you, the impossible task of turning around an entity that in effect
was closer to $40 million in losses per year became doable and that was because of the
difference in commercial approach.”

That approach included the decision from Portvale Sugar Factory to shed the responsibility of
importing and packaging sugar which led to losses exceeding BDS $1.5 million and allowed for
the specialisation of these tasks from outside.
BAMC workers will also see their pay increase on a weekly basis from $361 to $500. (JC)

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