GAWU concerned at being ignored, left in dark about sugar investors

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The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is livid at the fact that, even  though it is an important stakeholder, it is “now forced to depend on media reports to be aware that the Government and the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) are engaging more than one foreign investors who have, reportedly, expressed interest in investing in the sugar industry”.

Following is a statement from GAWU issued a few minutes ago:

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), as an important stakeholder,  is forced to depend on media reports to be aware that the Government and the Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc (GuySuCo) are engaging more than one foreign investors who have, reportedly, expressed interest in investing in the sugar industry.

The current visit and engagements mentioned by the media, we note, is taking place a month after a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was inked with a Trinidadian firm regarding the divestment of the Skeldon Estate. That MoU, as it turned out, was signed December 08, 2016 and its existence was only made known on December 31, 2016 when certain Ministers met with representatives of our Union, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE). On this matter, we believe, there is still much more than what meets the eye and which, eventually, would come to light.

The GAWU as an important stakeholder urges, at this time, that the Government and GuySuCo seek to update all stakeholders regarding the ongoing developments since the meeting of December 31, 2016. We make this call in the firm belief that GuySuCo as well as the Government has a responsibility to the employees of the industry who are threatened with joblessness and an uncertain future. We are also mindful of the stance of President Granger who recently committed to have unanimity and consensus in arriving on the future direction of the sugar industry. In the meantime, our Union awaits the receipt of a number of requested documents and other information it has sought through Minister of State, Joseph Harmon.

GAWU also takes this opportunity to reiterate strong belief that the industry can overcome its current travails and have a viable and sustainable future. Estate closures and sellout are not wise choices and it will hurt workers as well as the economy, an observation made by several organisations and many patriotic and competent Guyanese. Divestment in Jamaica, we wish to point out, has had painful consequences for the people there when some of the investors simply walked away from the industry last year. Moreover, moving along such a path (closure and sellout) is a grave departure from commitments made by the contesting parties during the 2015 National and Regional elections campaign.

Several proposals by the Sugar Commission of Inquiry, the Trade Unions and serious-minded persons to turnaround the sugar industry have been made and, we are convinced, deserve the resources and general support of the Government and GuySuCo in the interest of the thousands of sugar workers and the country.

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