Outspoken economist Ramon Gaskin is backing calls for Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) President Komal Chand to step down, as he believes that the Union head has betrayed the workers on several counts, especially as it relates to the issue of severance pay.Former presidential advisor and economist Ramon GaskinThe economist and public commentator told Guyana Times on Wednesday that he believes Chand made a huge blunder when he and his team met with President David Granger on Friday, January 19, and agreed to accept a decision to pay some of the sugar workers their full severance, while others have to wait.Gaskin, a former advisor to late President Cheddi Jagan, said, “Komal Chand has not given proper leadership to the workers over the years….Komal Chand is incapable and he should resign. The GAWU has failed the workers abysmally. It’s a complete and total failure.”He said GAWU under Chand’s leadership has spent more time writing to newspapers and responding to letters than actually coming up with tangible ideas that would help to ease the suffering of sugar workers.“They just writing letters in the newspaper and wasting time, instead of putting to the Government ideas that make sense to get jobs for these people or alternative jobs,” he opined.“They came out of a meeting with the President (David Granger) talking about being happy. Happy about what? The severance pay should be paid in full. They betrayed the interest of the workers, absolutely.”GAWU President Komal ChandThe economist told this newspaper that he is of the firm view that eventually some 10,000 plus workers within the industry would be fired.He said, “Once you close four estates, you have to send home 10,000 people. That’s the bottom line…”On Tuesday, hundreds of sugar workers said they were dissatisfied with Chand’s leadership as many called on the GAWU President to resign.Several workers in the sugar belt, who spoke with this publication, said they felt betrayed when GAWU agreed to accept that only some sugar workers who were dismissed would get their full severance pay at the end of January.The meeting the workers were referring to was held between the Union and Government on Friday last, to discuss severance payments. The Union had initially stated its disapproval of having workers receive part of their severance pay, but at the end of that meeting, Chand was quoted in the press as saying that he was pleased with the outcome, as he noted that the Union was now committed to working with the Administration.A worker from Enmore, who asked not to be named, told Guyana Times that the situation in the sugar industry has only worsened under Chand’s leadership. The sugar worker claimed that Chand has lost his zeal and could not now serve the interests of the workers anymore.Another worker noted that Chand, although having been leader of the Union for many years, had presided over the firing of thousands of workers, sending them into hopelessness. He added that having for years collected Union dues, GAWU should have done a better job in representing the workers at their darkest hour.Another former estate worker believes that for GAWU to win the battle in these difficult times the industry faces, the Union would need a new leader, one who has the capacity to represent and deliver.“There are other good leaders in the Union who are being suppressed. He has served his time, and needs to give others a chance to represent the workers. The Union is lacking strong representation with Chand at the helm, and this is the time we need strength to fight,” the worker opined.And only recently, Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Anil Nandlall raised concerns over GAWU’s handling of the issue and the retrenchment of sugar workers. Nandlall stated outright that he did not agree with the manner in which GAWU has approached the matter.“Quite frankly, I believe that GAWU should have ensured, demanded and taken a non-negotiable position when it comes to severance that all must be paid, or arrangements must be put in place for all to receive, in some kind of staggered manner,” Nandlall told this newspaper.