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Dec 30, 2014

B.S.C.F.A. Calls for general meeting on Sunday

Sunday will be a pivotal day in the future of this year’s sugar-cane crop. This morning the B.S.C.F.A. met in heated session, and agreed to go back to cane-farmers on that day. The plan is to break down the proposed agreement to farmers in detail, and there are two possible outcomes – one, a majority of farmers will vote to sign on and start the crop, or two, the agreement as it stands will be shot down, meaning that negotiations between the B.S.C.F.A. and ASR/ B.S.I. go back to square one. It’s a little more complicated than that, but basically that is what it boils down to. To say that the road leading to this point has been rocky is an understatement, but one way or the other, there will be some clarity come Sunday. Mike Rudon has been following this story from the beginning and has the update.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

Outside the B.S.C.F.A. headquarters this morning, a small group of cane-farmers gathered with signs imploring their directors not to sign on to the agreement with ASR/B.S.I.  And at around midday, word filtered out that they hadn’t. Upstairs in the conference room, the tension was palpable. It hadn’t been a pleasant meeting. Some of the directors, along with the Chairman of the B.S.C.F.A., want very badly to sign…but in the end they were forced to back down.


Ezequiel Cansino

Ezequiel Cansino, Chairman, Committee of Management, B.S.C.F.A.

“Today I think that we had a positive meeting regarding the issue of the request that five branch chairmen did for a special general meeting. We discussed that and we also discussed based on our by-laws and our by-laws clearly state that the COM should comply to any request and we have to give notice in minimum seven days to the general membership of this meeting. So we decided that we will be having this special general meeting this Sunday, which is the fourth of January.”


It’s a grudging concession by the Chairman, who has been one of the advocates for the signing – but his personal feeling, and that of the directors who side with him, had to be set aside in the face of the Association by-laws.


Ezequiel Cansino

“It’s true that we have some directors, let’s say the majority of the directors, that they are willing to start the crop. They did give their concerns and their points why they don’t want to go to the general meeting, but I go back again and I say that according to the bylaws of the association, we have to comply with that petition.”


That petition today was carried by a majority of the directors who decided that going to an AGM was the thing to do. But even with the turnout today, Cansino has his own expectations of Sunday’s meeting.


Ezequiel Cansino

“To have an acceptance by the membership and to sign this agreement as soon as possible, maybe Monday, and start the crop. The crop is very important from the cane farmer right now and I would think that the majority are willing to harvest their product.”


And just like Cansino makes no secret of what he would want, neither does cane-farmer and director Alfredo Ortega. For him, it is a victory of sorts in that farmers will now have the chance to make a decision from a fully-informed standpoint.


Alfredo Ortega

Alfredo Ortega, Director, B.S.C.F.A.

“What I would say is that I think that at least they listen to our voice because what we were looking for was for the farmers to have a better knowledge on what the contents are within the agreement itself—the complete content of it—because that is something that we had promised the farmers. When we started negotiations with B.S.I. for a new agreement to happen, we promised the farmers that we will present to them the full agreement so that they can get knowledge and after getting their blessing, then any signature can follow after that.”


Ortega has his own hopes for Sunday’s meeting, which includes an interim agreement and the start of the crop.


Alfredo Ortega

“None of us are stopping the crop to begin; all of us want the crop to go ahead and we have said this on all the interviews that have happened. Personally I have said this on all the interviews; we want the crop to start. But it is B.S.I. that have said if we don’t sign an agreement, we cannot start the crop. And that shouldn’t be like that beucase the crop should go on and we can continue our negotiation of the agreement separate from that. And that is why we asked them, if you are not confident in this, then let us sign the interim agreement so that that will guide us as what happened last year. That interim agreement guided us last year that the association will not be making any move to stop the crop and that this will not happen to this and we can work with that.”


So with that all parties prepare for a war, hopefully only a war of words, on Sunday. Mike Rudon for News Five.


Late this evening, the government issued a lengthy statement. First, it expresses hope that Sunday’s general assembly of the B.S.C.F.A. will approve the signing of an agreement giving way to the start of the crop.  Second, in responding to the “wrongheaded” positions taken by the N.T.U.C.B./Rod of Correction, the government states that the Sugar Industry Act mandates consultations between stakeholders before it can set a start date for the sugar crop and does not allow the SICB to act unilaterally.  G.O.B. also says that the stance of the organizations is intended to prevent a crop, derail the sugar industry and cause the destruction of the livelihoods of farmers. Third, for the avoidance of doubt, G.O.B. states that it will uphold the mandate of the Act and will not tolerate any illegal unilateralism or strong-arm tactics in the industry. 

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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2 Responses for “B.S.C.F.A. Calls for general meeting on Sunday”

  1. farmer says:

    GOB sucks!!!! bottom line

  2. CEO says:

    I hope the farmers stand together and think about the l;ong term. I hope they have to cojones to stand up even if it means losing out on one crop.

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