The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) in its year end press conference on Friday, reflected on 2017 and among other things addressed the woes of the thousands of sugar workers who have been rendered jobless as the incumbent Administration moves ahead with the “miniaturization” of the industry, via the closure and sale of key sugar estates.
However, aside from addressing the difficulties affecting the sugar workers currently, GAWU also took the opportunity to address the dismal sugar production registered for 2017, which the Union says will be the lowest since 1990.
“As at last Saturday (December 16, 2017), sugar production for the year stood at 137,233 tonnes. With the cessation of cane cutting across the industry, from all indications, sugar production may not top 140,000 tonnes sugar” GAWU said, while adding that sugar production since 2015 to now has plummeted by over 40 per cent.
The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and the Ministry of Finance had attributed the decrease in production in part to the amount of man hours lost due to strike action taken by workers.
However, GAWU has placed the dramatic decline of the industry’s performance squarely at the feet of its leadership.
“We have recognized that GuySuCo’s management, in seeking to explain its poor performance, has sought to blame the workers and the Union…Finance Minister, Winston Jordan in his 2018 Budget address spoke to some 22,000 man days being lost as strikes. For an industry with 16,000 workers, it meant that each worker would have struck a little more than a day” said GAWU.
Moreover, the Union posited that “Minister Keith Scott in his 2018 Budget debate contribution is quoted to have said “strikes have declined by 49.1 percent …this is the lowest number of strikes the industry has recorded”. The Ministers statements have clearly thrown a wet blanket on the Corporation’s insincere rationale. In view of the Minister’s explanations, our Union is eager to see what excuse the Corporation will use to defend what clearly is a miserable production.”
Jordan in his 2018 Budget presentation had said that sugar production for 2017 is expected to fall to 152,000 tons, a 17.2 per cent decline over last year’s output.