The Guyana Trade Union Congress (GTUC) has come out in strong condemnation of recent revelations
that Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) is unable to meet payment obligations to its workers. Further, it has failed to make contributions for its workforce.
GTUC President, Lincoln Lewis, at a press conference held yesterday at the Critchlow Labour College, said that the actions of Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of GUYSUCO, Dr. Rajendra Singh, border on criminal sabotage.
This is in reference to recent revelations that GUYSUCO had been deducting monies from workers but now owes over $1.5B to the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) because of not making contributions on behalf of the workers.
This was just days following the shocking pronouncement from Singh that the corporation had no money to pay junior and senior staff members, unless the newly installed Government provided a bailout package within the next few days.
Singh went further, and predicted that the corporation would cease operations should such a bailout not be provided.
“GUYSUCO cannot be allowed to hold the government hostage. The issues of this industry transcend ministerial abilities,” Lewis said.
He went on to call for a parliamentary review, open to the public and stakeholders in order to reach a consensus on the state of the industry, its future and what must be done towards worker’s wellbeing.
He also drew attention to the fact that Singh, who was a People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) candidate in the 2015 elections, had declared GUYSUCO’s inability to pay workers only two weeks after elections, and referred to these actions as ‘economic sabotage’.
“The era of burning acres of young cane to sabotage the economy is over. The sugar industry is home to some 16,000 workers. In 2015 GUYSUCO is no longer a productive entity (able) to meet domestic and international demands.
“GUYSUCO is additionally beleaguered by declining production levels, shortfalls in the Skeldon factory and runaway indebtness.
“This country can no longer be subjected to these reckless actions that border on criminal negligence and criminal sabotage. No politician or CEO should be allowed to continue using sugar workers.”
Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo recently pronounced that GUYSUCO’s entire board will be sent packing for what he described as its “gross levels of incompetence”.
Declaring that the sugar industry was badly injured by poor financial management, ill-informed investment decisions, conflicts of interest and corruption at the point of procurement, the Prime Minister laid the fault for these squarely at the feet of the Board of Directors and management.
GUYSUCO’s current Board of Directors comprises its Chairman Shaik Baksh, a former Education Minister; Dr. Dindyal Permaul, Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Livestock Development Authority (GLDA); Keith Burrowes, Executive Chairman of the Board and Guyana Office for Investment (GO- Invest); Badri Persaud, Managing Director, Guyana Oil (Guyoil) and Geeta Singh- Knight.
However, Keith Burrowes said that he tendered his resignation from the Board last year May. This was not announced because he claimed that the government asked him to remain quiet about it.
Nagamootoo made it clear that the current board cannot do much, if anything, to improve the company’s performance.
While in opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and Alliance for Change (AFC) had lashed out at Baksh’s appointment, saying that he was too closely associated with some major corruption scandals to be credible as an agent of change.
Geeta Singh- Knight was not spared either, since she presided over the collapse of the Colonial Life Insurance Company (CLICO) Guyana.
Lewis made it clear that these dubious records, as well as their tacit approval to Guysuco’s duplicity made the entire board as liable as Dr. Singh.
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