Feb 11, 2015 News
…as 19 workers dismissed in fertilizer scheme
The state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has fired 19 workers who are believed to have been involved in fertilizer scheme at La Bonne Intention (LBI) estate.
That decision has now led to a strike involving 380 on that East Coast Demerara estate.
According to GuySuCo in a statement yesterday, 15 cane harvesters were dismissed over the weekend and Monday for the inadequate application of fertilizer.
The fertilizer was intended for 10-week-old cane plants at Felicity Fields 49, 49A, 52 and 53, a section of the LBI cultivation, with GuySuCo saying that the incidents occurred on 24th and 25th July 2014.
Prior to the dismissal of these 15 workers, three junior staffers and one senior were dismissed between the 19th and 26th September for allowing the workers to have fertilizer inadequately applied to the cane plants.
GuySuCo noted that the 15 workers were adequately trained in the application of fertilizer, as it is routine for them to be assigned during the out-of-crop periods. The corporation said that during routine inspection, it was discovered that many cane plants were not fertilized. As a matter of fact, a thorough examination found that there was massive skipping in the application of the fertilizer.
“Subsequently, the Corporation’s agriculture audit team was deployed to make an assessment of the extent of fertilizer not being applied to the cane plants. It was revealed that there was massive skipping, and further the supervisory staff made full payment to the 15 workers for the poor quality of work done.”
Auditors found that only half of the fertilizers that were allocated were applied to 20 hectares of cane fields. There was no explanation what happened to the rest.
GuySuCo said it has been spending approximately $2B annually to import fertilizer and found it “totally unacceptable that fertilizer that is intended to nurture the cane plants could not be applied to them in the stipulated amount. This development could be the contributing factor for the East Demerara Estate experiencing low cane yields and stunted cane growth.”
GuySuCo warned that it will continue to exercise “a zero tolerance” for this type of work behaviour, “and in this sense wishes to advise those workers who are on strike to have an immediate end to their protest action and allow either the process of the grievance and/or disciplinary procedures to have their course.”
The corporation said that the strike will come at a time when the East Demerara estate is expected to commence its first crop for this year by mid next week. An industrial action will serve to jeopardize the startup of this crop.
GuySuCo has been struggling with its production for over a decade, with the industry recording some of its worst performances for the last 23 years in 2013 and 2014.
Rising costs, inefficiency and troubles with its flagship US$200M Skeldon estate modernization project have also been worrying stakeholders, with billions of taxpayers’ dollars being used to bailout the industry, with little results.
AUBREY NORTON FRIGHTEN RENEGOTIATION AND RING-FENCING
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