Apr 23, 2021 News
…claims $3.8B in losses last year; wages bill more than revenues earned
Kaieteur News – The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has signalled its intention to meet with the Guyana Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) over the stalled wages talks that led to a spate of recent strike action by sugar workers.
The Corporation in announcing the meeting yesterday sought to place on record its financial position, in relation to any wages increases, to say that last year it had to spend 102 percent of its revenue, to pay wages and salaries.
Additionally, the Corporation claimed that this past year, it recorded some $3.8 billion in losses.
As such, the Corporation underscored that, “without financial support from the shareholders, the Corporation could not have met its wages bill.”
Agreeing to meet in another two weeks on May 4, the Corporation noted too that at present, there is an employment freeze of senior staff at the Head Office until the human resource and skills audit process is completed. That report is expected to be submitted by the end of June 2021.
In an attempt to rubbish what it called inaccurate public statements made recently by the GAWU President, Seepaul Narine, the Corporation said, while it does not intend to negotiate in the press with the Union, it remains firm in its commitment to collaborate, to bring a final resolution to the workers’ compensation issues.
Lamenting its state of affairs financially, the Corporation in its public statement—to the press—said, it inherited a situation where it was met with a $113M debt owed to GAWU’s Credit Union and that it has since, “with the limited cash flows,” paid over approximately $140 million.
It said too, the Corporation has also formally committed to the GAWU to pay a further G$2 million per week to clear the inherited debt.
Blaming some of the industry’s financial woes on the past administration, the Corporation reminded that a 2017 Independent Audited Financial Statement of GuySuCo, made it absolutely clear, that by way of the Vesting Order in December of that year 2017, “all moveable and immovable property of Wales, Skeldon, East Demerara and Rose Hall” were transferred to the National Industrial and Commercial Investments (NICIL), but the liabilities remained with the Corporation.
Accordingly, GuySuCo said there is nothing “fairly straight forward” about a business that has the external auditors declaring that “the validity of the going concern basis on which the consolidated finance statements are prepared, is dependent on the continued support from the Government of Guyana.”
Additionally on the matter of wages and salaries, it was noted that the GuySuCo compensation package is governed by the ‘Hays Job Evaluation Methodology’ and it has been unable to meet the recommended rates for the senior staff since 2013.
According to GuySuCo, it would mean that the Corporation’s rates are below the average senior management salary rates in the public service and private sector.
It noted nonetheless ahead of its meeting that the Corporation is desirous of arriving at an amicable solution acceptable to all stakeholders and encourages factual discourse to advance the cause of the 7,400 workers.
GAWU subsequently responded to the Corporation to observe that while it was noted that the Corporation would not negotiate in the media, it did proceed to make certain statements public statements, “which we believe have prejudiced the ongoing discussions.”
The Union said too, “it was the first time we had learnt of these statistics” and that “we believe it would have been prudent for the Corporation to share such data at the bargaining table.”
Additionally, with regards the claims made that in 2020 it utilised 102 percent of revenues to pay wages, GAWU responded saying “for us, this seems perplexing, as GuySuCo, to the best of our knowledge, did not receive support from Government for current expenditure.”
The Union used the occasion to reiterate that the media extensively reported that the financing received from the Government was solely for capital expenditure.
As such, “if what the Corporation is saying is indeed true, we are befuddled as to it how met its other current expenses.”
It was noted nonetheless that the Union remains willing to engage the company.
With regards the claims made by GuySuCo of monies paid to the Union, GAWU denied that it received $140M between August 2020 and now.
It said rather, “…our Union received $31,806,616 representing Union dues and $79,398,039 representing Credit Union savings of workers, an aggregation of $111,204,655.”
These are monies authorised by workers and deducted from their wages and salaries and ought to be paid over.
“If indeed GuySuCo paid out such a large sum, as we have demonstrated, it was not entirely remitted to the GAWU or the Credit Union and we urge the GuySuCo to double check its figures…Regarding the outstanding sum, this is a matter that is actively engaging the Union and we will refrain from any further comment.”
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