8,800 tonnes more needed to achieve sugar target – as GuySuCo, GAWU agree to conciliation following talks deadlock

Last Updated on Thursday, 3 December 2015, 21:28 by GxMedia

Talks today between the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) to discuss the Annual Production Incentive (API) for the industry’s workers ended in deadlock with both parties agreeing to go the route of conciliation, the Government Information Agency (GINA) reported.

According to the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Errol Hanoman, a conciliation meeting with the parties and the Ministry of Labour, the conciliator, is likely to take place next week.

Hanoman said that GuySuCo continues to maintain its position of 2.7 days API for the production of 233,361 tonnes, to be paid not later than March 2016.

Regarding the corporation’s position on the API, Hanoman noted that one must not lose sight of the Weekly Production Incentives and Cane Harvesters Personal Performance Incentives which are paid weekly following the week when these incentives are earned. According to the sugar company’s CEO, to date this year GuySuCo has paid a hefty sum in incentives.

Contrary to the impression being given, Hanoman said that “everyone understands that GuySuCo has paid in 2015 to date $1,868M in incentives (WPI of $1,040M and Cane Harvesters PPI $828M) immediately after the incentives are earned. He pointed out that despite the serious financial problems which beset the corporation, “there has been no delay in the timely payment of these production incentives. Looking back over the past seven years, since 2009, the Weekly Production Incentives earned and paid for in 2015, are the highest,” he added.

The GuySuCo/GAWU API discussion has been going for weeks now. After the last discussion broke down between the two parties, GAWU encouraged the sugar workers to take protest action. As a result of that strike and another in October, production is lagging by approximately 10,000 tonnes.

According to Hanoman, this also means that cash flows are down by some $675M. “For the moment, the hole the corporation is in is deeper by this sum. Weather permitting; we are optimistic that this position would be recovered as we achieve our target over the next two to three weeks,” he said.

The loss of man-days, during the strikes not only affected the production, but “sadly workers lost significant earnings during the two strikes.” As a result of the three – day strike in October, 24,562 man-days were lost. The strike last week resulted in 28,911 man-days lost.

Had it not been for the loss of two weeks of man-days due to strike action, GuySuCo would have already realised its 2015 production target. Despite the loss, the company is still optimistic that it will achieve its 2015 target of 227,443 metric tonnes.

The latest production figure of 218,631 tonnes provided by Hanoman today to GINA means that the sugar company is just about 8,813 metric tonnes away from achieving its 2015 sugar target.

In a push to achieve this target, Hanoman told GINA that Blairmont and Skeldon operations are expected to be completed by December 12, whilst the Albion and Enmore operations are set to close by December 19.

He explained that the workers from these factories would be moved to speed-up the delivery at the Rosehall Factory, which is scheduled to be closed on December 26.

The last time the industry achieved its set production was in 2004 when it produced 325,317 tonnes of sugar, and this is despite, the sugar company over the years, consistent lowering its set targets.

The sugar company’s current ‘crop-to-date’ total as of 06:00hrs today stood at 137,487 metric tonnes, with the cumulative ‘year-to-date’ figure stood at 218,631 metric tonnes.