Estates closure challengeNearly two months after acting Chief Justice Roxane George ruled against an application to quash Government’s move to close the East Demerara and Rose Hall Estates, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) challenge against the ruling came up at the Appeal Court on Monday. However, the matter was deferred to January 24 when counsel for the parties appeared at the nation’s highest court.Guyana Times understands that Appellate Justices Rishi Persaud, Gregory Barnes and Acting Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards are presiding over the case.Rose Hall EstateThe unions brought the case at the Appeal Court based on the contention that the acting Chief Justice “erred” in denying the application. The original injunction in the High Court had noted that not enough consultations were held by Government with the affected parties.The majority of the Rose Hall and East Demerara Estate workers were let go by December 29, 2017. It was in May 2017 that Government announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo. These decisions were, however, met with union and community-sanctioned protests, which saw many workers and affected residents taking to the streets to highlight the negative impact the closures would have on workers and the economy as a whole.The Private Sector, civil society and other interest groups have long decried the closures of estates, with many saying that the country’s overall economy and the economies of villages would be impacted as a whole. The social strain on families was also noted as a major possible setback as in many instances, multiple members of the same household, including some husbands and wives, are employed within the sugar industry. The Wales Estate was closed in December 2016.