GAWU, GuySuCo in public spat over unsettled salary increases

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Even though the two parties have agreed to meet on May 4 to resolve the longstanding issue of wage and salary increases for sugar workers, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) are currently embroiled in a public spat over the issue.

GuySuCo’s public comments regarding the state of its finances have attracted a stinging rebuke from the trade union which condemned the Sugar Company for turning to the media ahead of the upcoming meeting.

Following an outburst by GuySuCo Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sasenarine Singh on Wednesday that the Corporation would not negotiate salary increases with GAWU through the media, GAWU has lashed back at the sugar company saying that GuySuCo’s comments to the media were unhelpful to good relations with workers.

GAWU condemned GuySuCo for committing to not negotiating the matter in the media while making public utterances on the issue.

Singh on Wednesday called out GAWU for what he described as irresponsible utterances in the media.
“Whoever wants to negotiate in the media, I say to them go ahead; go ahead and expose your foolishness,” the CEO said in a strongly-worded speech.

His comments come in the wake of a one-day strike and protest by workers attached to the Blairmount and Albion Estates on Monday over unsettled wage increases.

GAWU also took a swipe at Singh, who explained that the company has been experiencing financial hardship, saying that in 2020, GuySuCo spent 102 per cent of its earned revenue to pay wages and salaries. Meaning that without financial support from the shareholders, the Corporation could not have met its wages bill.

GAWU said that GuySuCo’s claim that it spent 102 per cent of its earnings on wages and salaries was perplexing.

“If what the Corporation is saying is indeed true, we are befuddled as to how it met its other current expenses,” the Union said in a release to the media on Thursday.

GAWU also pointed to an April 14, 2021 article in the State-owned Guyana Chronicle newspaper which stated that sugar was getting sweet again and that soon the company would be able to stand on its own. But now, the Union questioned GuySuCo’s gloomy description of the affairs of the company.

Notwithstanding, GAWU said it remained willing to engage GuySuCo in frank discussions and sought to address in a respectful manner the outstanding issues at the May 4 meeting.