GuySuCo produces 69 per cent of first crop target
…clash with union over incentive pay
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is reporting a dismal first crop marred again by strikes, low turnout of harvesters and higher than normal rainfall.
This was days after the workers’ union, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), blasted the state-owned sugar company saying that there was not enough cane on the field, in any case.
GuySuCo failed to make the projected 101,800 tonnes sugar.
“The failure to make the projected production has created an unfavourable cash flow situation, that compelled the corporation to inform GAWU on May 18th that it will be unable to make payments for Holiday with Pay (HWP) to workers on time, on those estates that have brought their crop to a premature end, due to the inclement weather,” the Corporation said yesterday.
Except for Skeldon and Blairmont, all the other estates closed their crop on May 11.
The sugar company said that it informed the union on May 18 that once the cash flow situation improves the payout will be made.
Already for this year, GuySuCo said, the first crop experienced 146 strikes with 18,130 “man-days” lost- of which 11,700 “man-days” were lost at Blairmont.
“Had the amount of “man-days” lost on strikes been at work supplying canes to the semi mechanical harvesters (Bell Loaders), an additional 7,500 tonnes sugar could have been produced equivalent to $1.2B in revenue,” GuySuCo said yesterday. “The average turnout of harvesters this crop was 52 per cent. This low turnout contributed to extremely low grinding hours per week in the factories.”
Optimally, a factory is expected to grind not less than 130 hours per week for better recoveries and factory time efficiency. “Unfortunately, only Rose Hall Estate has been able to grind an average of 100 hours per week. The other estates are between 75 and below 100 hours per week. During the inclement weather, sogginess of the soils prevents the Bell Loaders from operating because of soil compaction, thus harvesters have to be assigned to manual cut and load, rather than stacking canes for the mechanical harvesters.”
GuySuCo claimed that harvesters are reluctant to do cut and load and would prefer to return home. This resulted to burnt canes left to deteriorate in the fields for days.
“As the current time, 214,100 tonnes of cane remains to be harvested which now have to be harvested in the second crop but would not yield the same amount of sugar as the canes would be much older.”
Late last week, GAWU said that thousands of field and factory workers who are its members are becoming agitated with the announcement by GuySuCo that they will not be receiving HWP.
GAWU insisted that the core reason for the corporation’s consistent depleted financial state relates to its failure to attain, even close to its production targets.
At the end of last week, May 18, GuySuCo produced only 70,027 tonnes sugar out of its target of 101,813 tonnes.
“Even if the weather had been favourable, the estates that ended their crop simply did not have the quantity of canes to assist meaningfully in realizing the crop’s target. A source advised if the seven grinding estates had been facilitated by good weather to harvest their entire crop no more than 84,000 tonnes of sugar would have been obtained.”
GAWU accused the Corporation of being unable to adopt a strategy whereby it could effectively use its human, mechanical and other resources to harvest its first crop within the weeks of favourable weather condition.
“It is the Corporation’s responsibility to review its management practices to ensure that the maximum production is realized and no blame in this regard should be solely the workers’. GAWU wants the Corporation to secure financial support “from whatever legal source” to pay workers their deferred wages – HWP. The Corporation must also identify a positive date of the payment.”