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GTUC, FITUG float ideas for Guysuco’s success

Opposition Leader, David Granger marching with the Guyana Trades Union Congress on May Day 2014.

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) on Thursday- May Day- signalled that it would pressure government into a crafting a proper turnaround plan for the ailing Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco), even as the large sugar union said it was optimistic that the industry would rebound.

After the customary May Day Parade, several unions under the GTUC banner converged at the Critchlow Labour College (CLC) for their rally where they approved a motion calling for a multidisciplinary and multiagency task force to craft a “comprehensive plan” for the turnaround of Guysuco.

“Be it resolved that this May Day Rally calls on the Government of Guyana to ensure that there is a development of a comprehensive plan for Guysuco that is feasible and can return the industry to or transform it into a viable economic entity,” states the motion.

The GTUC stated that Guysuco, a large national entity, could not be allowed to fail because it has significant impact on the Guyanese economy and workers of that state-run corporation.

The motion was passed against the background that the National Assembly this year approved GUY$6 billion in subsidies to help the highly indebted corporation. “Guysuco is a recipient of subsidies from the national treasury and consequently the people of Guyana. It is in the interest of all Guyanese to ensure that Guysuco succeeds,” states the GTUC’s motion.

The opposition A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance For Change (AFC) approved the subsidy with the expectation that government would fulfil its promise to provide detailed plans for the industry to recover from a protracted period of sliding production. The GTUC has historically enjoyed good relations with the Peoples National Congress Reform (PNCR) while that party has been in and out of labour.

More than 60 percent of Guysuco’s revenue goes towards wages and salaries. Poor weather, industrial unrest, bad plant husbandry and general mismanagement have all been blamed for bitter times facing the Industry.

Across at the National Park, Vice President of the breakaway Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG), Komal Chand remained hopeful that the industry would again become profitable although another year of misfortune has befallen it”.  Chand, who is the President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) reiterated that none of the solutions included the sale of estates, diversifying to ethanol or other forms of agriculture. Instead, Chand said a key ingredient for increased production of the sweetener was planting of high yielding varieties at the seven estates. “We believe that a key factor for success is Guysuco’s ability and capability to grow sufficient quantity of good quality canes,” he said. Chand said that from all accounts the prospects for the industry looked good in the near term. “Several indicators, we are told, show that a silver lining is already beginning to appear. We are certainly overjoyed that this is so,” he said.

The GAWU official hoped that government would urgently appoint the other members of the Board of Directors. The opposition has been clamouring for fewer politicos on the board but instead persons with specific expertise.