The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has been named as one of the major contributors to the downfall of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
A recently completed Commission of Inquiry into the sugar industry said that the Union drove a hard bargain with regards to pay increases and bonuses which contributed in no small part to GuySuCo’s current financial status.
GAWU represents a majority of the 17,000 workers in the sugar industry with others under no representation or being represented by another union.
“GAWU’s insensitivity to the realities of the sugar industry, especially its deteriorating financial position and other challenges. This reflected in the unrelenting union demands leading to escalating labour costs with negative repercussions on the morale of the management team and gives the impression of a chaotic environment in the industry,” the report stated.
It was at the time listing ten main factors that led to sugar’s decline.
Other factors includes mismanagement of resources, unavailability of funds, political influence and failure to demonstrate appreciation of the “national role of GuySuCo.”
The report noted that cane cutters earn as much as $2.4M annually which works out to just about $200,000 per months. Cane transport earned $2.9M per year being the highest paid, while the lowest being $870,771 per annum for weeding.
“Furthermore, the current very costly set of bonuses and incentives which should be anchored on higher attendance at work and higher productivity continued to be paid despite the fact that attendance has been dropping, production has been declining and significant losses being incurred,” stated the report.
The COI recommended the privatization of GuySuCo as one of the steps forward and the state divests itself of all assets, activities and operations associated with the sugar company.
When the report was presented to the House, Agriculture Minister Noel Holder stated that the recommendations in the report does not reflect the final decision of Government.
He made it clear that government is seeking the widest consultation possible since GuySuCo “has reached a point of no return.”
“It can remain in business by either two ways increased subsidies or borrows…Widest possible consideration and all stakeholders on chartering the course for the industry.”