Georgetown February 9, 2016 – On Wednesday February 8, 2017 about 160 employees at the Rose Hall Estate was engaged in a protest which was organised by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU).
Some of the messages on the plaque cards carried by the protesting employees included: ‘IMC must answer for industries poor performance’, ‘we will sink into poverty after closure’, ‘closure to Estate will cause crime situation’, ‘we oppose the closure of Rose Hall Estate’, ‘no wage raise, no API’, ‘ghost village after Estate closure’ and ‘Estate closure rise in crime and starvation’
The persistent confrontational approach or their underlying mission of resistance has forced the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (GuySuCo) to question the motives of GAWU, since much of this confrontation and resistance are often without justification but more of an anti-GuySuCo strategy.
The Corporation wishes to state that the time has come for GAWU to change its tactics if it wants to be considered as a serious partner and stakeholder in the business of sugar and in the context of GuySuCo. The Union seems to be missing a fundamental point, which is, a GuySuCo that is disciplined and productive, will be of benefit to all parties, including GAWU.
The Union is operating in a confused bubble which is having a ripple effect – they confuse our employees and this confusion is transferred to the Corporation.
While at Rose Hall Estate on February 8, 2017, GAWU had employees protesting to retain their jobs, on February, 7 and 9, 2017, the same Union, had employees at Wales Estate protesting and demanding that they be put out of their jobs and be paid severance.
Additionally, GAWU has been complaining that employees have not been paid wages increases for two consecutive years, even though the Union is well aware of the Corporation’s financial situation. Therefore instead of the confrontational and adversarial approach, GuySuCo would like to assist GAWU in redefining its purpose to enable the Union to better serve the Corporation, its members and Guyana.
Firstly, there is a severe labour shortage at most estates and attendance is also a major issue. The Tables below show the percentages of Planters and Harvesters for the First and Second Crop 2016. It would be constructive, if GAWU would use its influence and encourage employees to improve their attendance. If the Planters do not turn out in full strength then harvesting will be limited the following year; ultimately this will have a negative impact on sugar production.
Planters’ percentages for attendance for First and Second Crop 2016
Harvesters’ percentages for attendance for First and Second Crop 2016
Secondly, GAWU can better serve the Corporation and our employees by ensuring that during this period of extreme challenges, there is a ‘
In 2016, there were 148 strikes and 44,500 man-days lost.
Another area for consideration by GAWU in an effort to support GuySuCo in sustaining the Corporation and by extension the sugar industry is to respect the governance structures in the organisation and management’s drive to foster a more disciplined environment. For instance, GAWU is aware that it is unethical for the employees from the Wales Estate to be paid severance and then seek re-employment, yet the Union is openly advising these employees to demand severance. While this might have occurred before on another location, it is severely frowned on and like so many other wrongs, must not be allowed to continue.
The Corporation is calling on GAWU to stop the anti-GuySuCo campaign and engage the Corporation more meaningfully.