Oct 27, 2015 News
…as Govt. calls strike action politically motivated
Agriculture Minister, Noel Holder, is of the view that current strike action organized by the Guyana
Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is politically motivated since the sugar industry is now performing under a newly installed Interim Management Committee (IMC).
According to Minister Holder, “One of the problems with the sugar industry is that it has been used as a political football, and you have seen the result of that is the reduction in productivity over the years, and the putting of square pegs in round holes by the former Government.”
He has since advised that the coalition, A Partnership for National Unity plus Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) Government has taken a hands-off policy allowing managers to manage.
“We have put in an interim management team; you have seen that productivity has gone up. In fact we have surpassed targets over the last three or four weeks,” the Minister stated.
Minister Holder believes that GAWU, having seen that, is now on the defensive and being a political organization is trying to disrupt that process.
He further explained that the Commission of Inquiry (COI) that was established to look into Guysuco’s affairs had a GAWU representative as one of its members.
“So although the results of the COI have not yet been taken to Cabinet, GAWU is aware of it because it had a man on the Commission. This man was part of the results, so I suspect what’s going on here it’s political and that the government does not want to get involved in this kind of thing.”
“We want management to handle it and we want GAWU to be responsible individuals. Look at what they are going to do to the industry,” Minister Holder explained.
Meanwhile the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has formally responded to GAWU calling for a cessation of the strike action.
In a letter addressed to Seepaul Narine, GAWU’s General Secretary, GuySuCo lamented that the strike action was firstly not in compliance with established procedure.
GuySuCo further stated in its plea to the union body that “we need not remind you of the severe harm this strike will inflict on our people, industry and nation at a time when we are working assiduously to ensure our survival.”
Penned by GuySuCo’s Chief Industrial Relations Manager, Deodat Sukhu, the sugar corporation sought to emphasize its position that over the past few weeks “we have witnessed a momentum that was not seen for over a decade in the industry.”
According to Sukhu, “Last week’s production tested the capabilities of the factories and commitment by the workers and management where we witnessed the production of 10,076 tonnes of sugar by six factories, a first for the industry…Skeldon factory recorded its highest weekly and daily production, 2, 980 tonnes and 550 tonnes respectively since its commissioning.”
It was noted too, that the constructive relationship that currently exists between the Corporation and the Union should not be allowed to deteriorate, and “in the circumstances, the Corporation implores you to use your good office and encourage the workers to resume work soonest.”
Sukhu further stated, “You will recognize that the Corporation has been and continues to be willing to have dialogue with you as we work in the collective interest for the survival of the industry.”
He added that as was previously indicated to GAWU that the Corporation can only meet to consider the proposals by the Union after the Commission of Inquiry’s (COI) report has been considered by the shareholder, the Government of Guyana and guidance provided on the way forward.
The report has been submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture.
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