Hurt by sugar strike
AS?BARBADOS’ lone sugar factory heats up to restart grinding after a workers’ strike that crippled the industry for eight days, one St George small farmer is thinking seriously about winding down as a result of the fallout from the action.
Maylene McKay, of Greens, is counting her losses because there is still quite a quantity of cane in her quarter acre of land. She also has a truckload of hand-packed cane awaiting transportation to Portvale Factory, St James. And her harvest is drying out.
McKay’s dilemma arose because of an impasse between the Barbados Workers’ Union and the Barbados Agricultural Management Company (BAMC) that centred on separation packages for 57 retrenched workers from Andrews Sugar Factory.
BAMC says that the action cost it $286 000 over the eight days.
But even though McKay could not put a dollar figure on her losses, she said prospects did not look too sweet for her.
She also said the returns on growing canes did not encourage the investment.
“Although I like to keep the canes, what would you do if you are not going to get them reaped? You don’t break even,” said McKay
Acting on a call that a Bedford truck belonging to a small farmer was parked laden with hand-packed cane, the SUNDAY?SUN visited Thorpes, St George, to get the story. On reaching Jeffrey Nurse, the driver of the truck, he directed us to McKay at Greens. Nurse, however, said he was awaiting a call from Portvale as to when he could bring in the canes.
Over at Greens, a worried McKay was not too excited about continuing an involvement she said was started by her mother.
She hinted that her “cane piece” was sometimes a victim of people who sucked the cane and said the recent strike might signal the end of her involvement in the industry since relocating to Barbados in 2003, after 45 years in England.
“I don’t know what to say about it. I am feeling a bit sad,” was McKay’s response when asked how she felt about the strike.
She said she was not the only one being hurt but lamented that her “canes now would dry up. And I very upset about it”. (JS)