The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has accused its main union of threatening workers to strike, claiming that the attempts have fizzled.
According to the Corporation yesterday, on Tuesday as Guyana celebrated its 46th Republic Anniversary, Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) representatives fanned out across the sugar industry to persuade workers to strike and to protest. “Workers at most of the estates did not answer this call which was masterminded by the union’s central leadership. The maturity of the workforce has prevailed over the union’s self-serving call that could have had a negative impact on the industry.”
There was normalcy at all estates except Uitvlugt, where 400 harvesters came out, indicating their willingness to work.
“However, the Field Officer and representatives of GAWU prevented the workers from taking up work, with the result that 70 persons defied them while 330 went home reluctantly.”
GuySuCo said that the Field Officer who was installed there on Tuesday, after his predecessor was dismissed on February 3, last, for not supporting calls by his superiors in the union, and representatives were at the order line encouraging workers to strike.
GuySuCo said that it was alleged that workers were given strong warnings by the Union leadership.
In the case of the Field Officer, GuySuCo alleged that he was told that if he failed to get the workers to protest he will be removed.
“…and in relation to the representatives, if they don’t get their respective gang workers to strike they will be removed as reps.”
Similarly, the workers were told if they don’t support the strike they would not be afforded representation by the union in the future.
“Also with a production of 410 tonnes sugar this morning against a target of 969 tonnes sugar, their inability to work, which was incited by the representatives and Field Officer of the union, will result in all of Uitvlugt possibly losing a further day’s pay in the form of Weekly Production Incentive [WPI] for not achieving their target.”
GuySuCo said that it is of the view that GAWU’s intention is to break Uitvlugt estate’s momentum. The estate achieved its targets for the two previous weeks since the crop commenced, when all workers earned one day’s WPI each.
“GuySuCo exhorts its workers to be more concerned with their future, with job security, and not the agenda of their union’s leadership which seems not to be in sync with the best interest of the workers and the industry,” the GuySuCo statement said yesterday.
The state-owned company and its union have had a stormy relationship over the years.
The industry, with 16,000 workers, is deeply troubled with production costs more than double what GuySuCo is selling sugar for.
Despite reaching targets last year for the first time in a decade, the industry is facing decision time as Government moves to cut costs to reduce losses.
Recently, Government announced that it was closing the oldest sugar factory- Wales on the West Bank of Demerara—- because of high inefficiency and massive losses.
This year again, the industry is set to receive another cash injection of $10B.
Last year, although collecting over $17B from its sugar sales, GuySuCo’s wage and salary bill was over $21B.
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