Sugar workers to receive 2015 Annual Production Incentive

Last Updated on Thursday, 31 March 2016, 12:39 by Denis Chabrol

Sugar workers are from Friday, April 1, 2016 expected to receive 2.72 days pay as an Annual Production Incentive (API), a decision that the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has labelled “uncompromising.”

A spokeswoman for the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) told Demerara Waves Online News that the pay-out will cost the sugar producer  GYD$184.61 million

The union said the decision by the cash-strapped state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) to make the pay-out followed a deadlock on the issue. “The GAWU considered that GuySuCo’s offer of one day’s pay for every 85,000 tonnes to be unjust and opposed it vehemently,” the union said in a statement.

Reacting to GAWU’s stance, the Guysuco spokeswoman told Demerara Waves Online News that “with regardd to GAWU claim with us taking an uncomprimsuing position, while we have taken a position we have also paid out two billion dollars in tax free incentives in 2015 so we cant disconnect that from the position that we have taken with regard to to the API.”

GAWU said now that there is a deadlock, GuySuCo would now proceed with the API payments of 2.72 days’ pay for the 231,145 tonnes of sugar produced in 2015.

By its own calculations of previously awarded API’s, the union argued that sugar workers deserved more money for last year.

The union provided figures showing that between 2011 and 2014 the average was 35,945 tonnes per day’s pay. GAWU pointed out that sugar workers received 7.58 API days’ pay for a production of 236,506 tonnes sugar in 2011; 6.76 days’ pay for 218,060 tonnes sugar in 2012; 5 days’ pay for 186,807 tonnes sugar in 2013, and 4.5 days’ pay for 216,359 tonnes sugar in 2014.

The two sides held five meetings on API for 2015- two under the chairmanship of the Chief Labour Officer (CLO) at conciliation and three between the parties (GAWU and GuySuCo) at the bilateral level relating to Annual Production Incentive (API) for 2015.

GAWU said the meetings which took place between November 18 and December 11, 2015 saw GuySuCo taking an uncompromising stand on its proposal to award a day’s pay as API for every 85,000 tonnes, or part thereof, of sugar produced.

The union further noted that “no agreement had been reached between the parties. ” According to GAWU, the CLO at the last meeting on December 11, 2015 advised that he would wish to brief his subject Minister who is the Chief Conciliator about the matter. “The Union next heard from the CLO when he summoned a meeting with GAWU and GuySuCo on February 19, 2016. He did not report on the Minister’s view of the matter. The CLO then proceeded to declare the API conciliatory effort to be deadlocked.”

Guysuco has already told the GAWU and the National Association of Agricultural and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) that it could not pay higher wages and salaries for 2015.