GuySuCo invites workers who feel that they are being misled on the future of the Corporation to meet with management at Head Office or Estates for further discussions

The Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (GuSuCo) has taken note that one of the Unions that represents a large section of our workforce, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), has taken the lead in organising protest action to advocate on matters purported to be associated with the Corporation. However, while to some extent the Corporation understands the Unions’ position, it holds a strong view that GAWU is entangling the sugar industry and its workers into matters that have less to do with the business of sugar and more bearing on other matters.

The Union has over the past month organized and led protests in Rose Hall, Enmore and Skeldon and is currently mobilizing residents, according to a flyer that is being circulated, to March and Rally to defend the sellout and closure of Albion Estate. Now, it was made pellucid clear in the State Paper on the Future of GuySuCo, that the sugar component will include an amalgamation of estates - Albion-Rose Hall, Blairmont and Uitvlugt-Wales estates. The targeted annual production is projected at 147,000 tonnes of sugar to satisfy the demand in the local markets (25,000 tonnes), CARICOM and regional (50,000 - 60,000 tonnes), United States of America (12,500 tonnes) and the World Market (50,000) tonnes.  Focus would also be on producing for direct consumption, value-added sugars and providing electricity to the national grid (co-generation). A diversification component is also proposed.

Currently studies are being conducted to determine the viability of integrating co-generation components at Albion and Uitvlugt Estates.

Recently, a Report on the Feasibility Study for Aquaculture as one aspect of the diversification programme, was submitted to GuySuCo and the government by AquaSol Corporation Inc., the company that conducted the study, and from all indications this will be a viable business venture.

GuySuCo has also indicated that other areas being considered for diversification ventures are: dairy farming, livestock farming and the cultivation of fruit crops and seed paddy. It is proposed that employees will be leased lands for engaging in agricultural areas which will be a part of GuySuCo’s diversification programme.

None of the above supports GAWU’s claims of the SUGAR INDUSTRY TO BE SOLD OUT OR CLOSED DOWN. In the specific instance of Albion Estate, the State Paper is clear that Albion Estate is one of the three estates that will remain in sugar; however, the Union is organising a March and Rally on 20 June, 2017 to oppose the closure and sell out of Albion Estate.

GuySuCo’s dilemma with GAWU is that as the largest workers’ representative Union in the industry, it is becoming clearer that its motives and motivations does not support GuySuCo’s efforts to increase production and productivity in sugar and to design and implement a diversification programme to build more resilience and sustainability into the Corporation and more specifically the business of sugar.

GuySuCo provides daily transportation and free medical for employees and their families, once the workers achieve targets on their estates, they earn Weekly Production Incentives (WPI) and a range of other benefits are available.

The Corporation has an acute labour problem at all estates, this is further compounded by low attendance at all estates, however, instead of GAWU encouraging our employees who are  members of the Union to improve their attendance, and contribute towards the growth of their Corporation, they are encouraged to take strike action and protest. In 2016 alone, there were almost 150 strikes. Strikes average between150 to 250 annually.

Strikes, protests, sabotage, customs and practices are to a large extent, unnecessary impediments and grave hindrances to the productivity of the business and also nurture an unstable environment.

At some point, very soon, the management of GuySuCo will demand a higher level and more analytical and less adversarial service from GAWU for our workers.

GuySuCo is inviting workers who feel that they are being misled for reasons not related to sugar, to meet with management at Head Office or on estates for further discussions. More specifically, workers who are members of GAWU and are of the view that they are being misled on the future of the Corporation, are encouraged to meet with management on estates or at the Head Office.   

Further, the management would like to inform members of the public, that it will continue to manage the Corporation as a business; 150 to 250 strikes per year, 40,000 to 130,000 man-days being lost per year, the wanton loss of sugar due to workers being called out to strike or protest while sugar is being processed in the factory and which could result in the loss of over G$17M a day, will not continue! GAWU’s engagement with the Corporation has to be elevated to provide more mentorship and at an advisory level in keeping with the aims and objectives of making GuySuCo sustainable. The management is aware that the Corporation cannot be successful without order and discipline.

Finally, GuySuCo is appealing to members of public who are participating in protest action relative to the sugar industry, to assist the Corporation by engaging in efforts to encourage our employees in their communities, mainly our workers in the Agriculture Departments on estates, to improve their attendance for the Second Crop 2017 which starts mid-July, so that estates can achieve their targets.

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