The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) has made it clear it will reject any proposal to sell the Skeldon sugar factory in Berbice.
FITUG has also declared its full endorsement and support with regard to similar concerns and sentiments about the Skeldon sugar factor contained in a press release recently issued by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), a major affiliate of the FITUG grouping.
“The release expressed our affiliate’s strong and unambiguous condemnation, bordering on outrage, regarding intimation to dispose by sale, the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) major asset, the Skeldon factory and other related property,” FITUG said in a statement of its own this morning.
FITUG said it has taken note of “the potential dire effect on the employees’ lives of this unnecessary plan to sell an important national asset”.
It contends that any sale of the Skeldon facility at this time would certainly impact negatively on the entire industry, which can only aggravate the country’s economic plight. The factory and the estate’s extensive and rich land-holding have the potential to contribute to GuySuCo’s recovery and, indeed the nation’s economy.
FITUG said it sees much sense in the case made by GAWU for the retention, refurbishment and sustained technical maintenance of the Skeldon flagship estate. It said recent praise about the factory’s excellent Skeldon’s sustained improved production performance coming from GuySuCo’s Chairman and the Agriculture Minister need to be emphasized. Additionally, the Corporation’s last (2015) Annual Report also spoke to the factory’s excellent performance and, importantly, the constructive recommendations from the Government-appointed Commission of Inquiry must not be swept under the carpet as they present a sound case for the retention of Skeldon with all its potential, including its Co-Generation plant.
Further, FITUG said it wishes to raise concerns that are related to transparency in the proposed Government-Corporation ‘sale’ scheme. Firstly, as experienced when the Wales Estate closure was mooted early this year, there has been no consultation with the workers or their union. Credible information revealed that at the level of GuySuCo’s Board of Directors the matter was not discussed and the relevant decision(s) seem to be limited to a select few, at least, up to this time. “We are mindful of the fact that the industry, wholly or its many components, are the nation’s assets and the Administrations of GuySuCo and the Government should not forget this,” FITUG stated.
It also considers it important to expose that no agency or auditor, except Wartsila which examined only the power generation aspect of the factory, has been identified in the new and sudden critique of Skeldon made simultaneously when not so far-fetched rumours about a chosen buyer identified though no bidding has been announced.
FITUG also urges the Government to tread warily, re-think hasty decisions and consult every stakeholder, including the unions and the political opposition on this ‘sale of Skeldon’ which, we firmly believe, will be disastrous.
FITUG also said it recognises the anxieties gripping the workers and their families, felt in their communities. “Once again, we see a high-handed callous treatment of workers and their Unions. This is a direction that is not leading to a hopeful future,” it added.