Surinamese workers encouraged by banana company privatisation

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Last week, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Suriname and UNIVEG announced the completion of the privatisation process of former state-owned Surinam banana company, SBBS (“Stichting Behoud Bananen Sector”). The Belgian fruit company Univeg, which has been marketing most of the production from the country's two large plantations for several years, is to own 90% of SBBS. The remaining 10% of shares will remain in the hands of the government.

Leader of trade union Bacoven Arbeiders Bond Nickerie, Dayanand Dwarka, told Banana Link, that workers were optimistic for the future of the industry: “Based on our former experience of the late banana company Surland NV, which was closed in 2002 and restarted under the name SBBS, we as a union supported the process of privatisation. The unions have participated actively in the process as part of the evaluation committee appointed by the government. We believe that employment will now be more secure.

Hendrik Setrowidjojo, Ministry of Agriculture, agrees with the union about job security, a key issue for the 2500 workers: “The Republic of Suriname has a policy to sustain the banana sector for the long term and to safeguard the employment in this sector.

Dwarka concluded: “We are also aware that the privatisation is just the beginning of a new relation including new challenges; We hope that we can continue the relation that we have built with SBBS, based on trust and mutual interest.

Paramaribo, 27th January 2014