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Jan 14, 2015

Elrington Says Farmers Were Wrong To Take Legal Action

Wilfred Elrington

Acting first on behalf of cane-farmer Lucilo Teck, and latterly on behalf of the B.S.C.F.A., attorney Audrey Matura-Shepherd sought an order of Mandamus from the Court. That order would effectively instruct the Sugar Industry Control Board to declare a start date of the crop, and force the factory to mill. The hearing is, or was, scheduled for February twenty-third. But with the farmers now agreeing to sign on with ASR/B.S.I., that hearing now appears to be moot. Minister Wilfred Elrington told News Five today that he feels it was a mistake to even seek the order, and farmers should have signed on, and negotiated better at a later date.

 

Wilfred Elrington, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“The position of the cane-farmers historically has never been strong. You have a perishable crop. The crop cannot stay in the ground for more than a few weeks otherwise it starts to rot. So you don’t have much scope to negotiate. You don’t have a very strong negotiating position. People have mortgages to pay. People have loans. So you have got to take all of that into consideration. If I don’t agree with the proposal that you are putting, what next? Do I have a fallback plan? The farmers unfortunately don’t. That is not unusual in this kind of industry. And I will say to you…they should have learned from what occurred in the citrus industry. This is a replay of what recently took place in the citrus industry. You have this kind of fight and you have got to be aware of it and take the position that is going to do the least harm. I think that in this case the least harm would have been to go ahead and sign even though you didn’t get everything you wanted. And the next time you sit at the negotiating table you would be able to seek to get more. I think that is the prudent way to operate. I certainly thought that it was a mistake to go to Court. I thought that.”

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