President Donald Ramotar has reiterated his call for unity in the sugar industry and committed to working with stakeholders to ensure that it continues to play a central role in the economy.

President Ramotar made this call at the 64th anniversary of the commemoration of the death of the five Enmore Sugar Workers who were killed by colonial police in 1948 as they protested for better working conditions.

“Let us begin to work together to build the industry, our country and to make it a better place for all the people in this country,” the Head of State said.

Speaking specifically on Guysuco, President Ramotar said, “…if you were to look across this nation you would see that Guysuco has trained more skilled workers not only for themselves but for other industries, many overseas have benefitted from their skills".

The President added that what took place at Enmore, then, was a coming together of several strands of struggle that were taking place worldwide.

“We are here to commemorate the lives of the Enmore Martyrs …that incident on June 16, 1948 has become one of the most important dates in our country’s history, and one of the most important dates in the calendar of working class struggles in our country…. In that same year, there was a huge strike in the bauxite industry and a big strike in the transport sector…the world had just emerged from the second world war and there was a mighty thrust in anti-colonial struggles taking place,” the Head of State Said.

President of the Guyana Labour Union, Winston Joseph said he is reminded of the Enmore Martyrs’ ultimate sacrifice that was made as they paved the way for a better tomorrow, not only for sugar workers but against the Plutocracy and colonial rule of an independent Guyana. (GINA, NCN) Photo: GINA

Background: Enmore 1948

In April 1948, cane cutters in British Guiana, went on strike calling for the replacement of "cut and load" with a "cut and drop" system by which the cane cutters should cut the cane.

They also demanded higher wages and improved living conditions on the sugar estates. However, the real aim of the strike was to demand recognition of the Guyana Industrial Workers Union (GIWU) as the bargaining union for the field and factory workers on all the sugar estates in the country.

On June 16 the SPA and the MPCA met to discuss the issues, but no satisfactory agreement was reached, in any case the workers felt very strongly that that union was betraying their interests.

Early on the morning of June 16 a crowd of about 400 workers gathered outside the factory at Enmore for a protest and picketing exercise. By 10.00 a.m. the crowd had grown to between 500 and 600 persons. Several persons managed to enter the compound on the rear of the factory.

The policemen tried to push back the crowd, but after this effort failed, they opened fire and five workers were killed and 14 others were injured.

Lallabagee Kissoon, 30 years old, was shot in the back; 19-year-old Pooran was shot in the leg and pelvis; Rambarran died from bullet wounds in his leg; Dookhie died in hospital later that day; and Harry died the following day from severe spinal injuries. These men, through the years, became known as the Enmore Martyrs.

source: ncnguyana


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