Dear Editor,Several sections of the media reported that Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, announced about the outstanding redundancy pay to the thousands of workers made jobless by the callous, heartless decision to close several sugar estates in recent times. Minister Harmon is reported to have said that the Government already has identified the source of funding to meet the illegally withheld payments to the beleaguered workers. We expect that the Government will soon advise the workers when their payments would be available.The State Minister, according to the press, was also seemingly critical of our move to the courts on this matter. But it seems that, hadn’t we pursued such a course, the Government wouldn’t have awoken from its seeming deep slumber and finally decide to address the matter. Again, it confirms that our decision to go to court was the right decision.While pleased to hear about this latest development, we indeed hope that the Government’s support does not end there. With the GuySuCo Alternative Livelihood Programme and Sustainable Communities Programme from all indications suffering a still-birth, there is strong need for a realistic programme to support the workers and their families at what is possibly the hardest and toughest time in their lives. It is dismaying for us that, on to this day, the Government has not seen it necessary to visit the hard-pressed communities. It seems to us that the Government wants to wash its hands after the outstanding payments are made.We sincerely hope this is not the case, but the indications do not give us much hope.The suffering workers can be assured of the GAWU’s commitment to press the Government to give focused attention to address and ensure relief to the plight of the affected workers and their dependents.Yours faithfully,Seepaul NarineGAWU
With a state of emergency declared on Sunday, Minister for Tourism and Major Events, George Souris, said the government would be doing all it could to help communities affected by the infernos “rebuild their businesses and tourism livelihoods”. The New South Wales Government has vowed to support tourism as fires continue to rage across large parts of the state, most notably in and around the popular tourist region of the Blue Mountains. “Once the fires have been controlled, the Government’s tourism and major events agency, Destination NSW, will work with local operators and community leaders to prioritise where help is needed the most.” Key to its support, will be ensuring visitors know the regions are “open for business” in the lead up to a “busy summer holiday period”, Mr Souris added. An RFS firefirghter battles a fire near Bell in the Blue Mountains. Image AAP- Paul Miller Visitors planning to travel to affected areas including Lithgow, the Blue Mountains, Wyong (Central Coast), Heathbrae (Hunter region) and Balmoral (Southern Highlands) are advised to check the latest bushfire information on the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) website www.rfs.nsw.gov.au and for road closures www.lifetraffic.com before travelling. “Tourism is a critical part of many of these communities,” he said. Source = ETB News: M.H.