By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Employees of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) will receive a four percent increase in salaries (retroactive) according to President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) Komal Chand.
In an exclusive interview with iNews, the GAWU Head explained that this followed discussions between the Union and Guysuco and a payout date has been set for December 20.
Chand said that currently the Union is seeking to begin discussions regarding the Annual Production Incentive (API) for 2013. He said GAWU has written to the Corporation and is awaiting a response.
Guysuco may not achieve worst production in 22 years
The sugar production as of November 16, 2013 was 165,929 tonnes, chasing a revised annual target of 203,282 tonnes. This means that Guysuco is 37,253 tonnes away from the realization of its revised target.
According to the GAWU President, attaining the deficit by the end of the year is not easily achievable. He said it will definitely be an ‘uphill task’ for Guysuco taking into consideration the current weekly production.
Chand explained that the Corporation has decided to operate all its factories until December 20 (for the next five weeks) to meet its target of 203,282 tonnes.
“Even with good weather is will be an uphill task for Guysuco, if one look at the weekly production pattern… the next five weeks will only see a production of 30,000 tons and as you see they need 37,000 tonnes,” Chand explained.
He is hopeful that with good judgment the revised target will be attained. “They indeed have a lot of cane to reap but one must make the right judgment in production.”
The target at the beginning of the year was 240,000 tonnes; this was later revised by Guysuco to 203,000 tonnes at the end of the first crop. According to Chand even if the Corporation reaches its revised target it will be the worst production in 22 years.
He said for the past few years Guysuco has not been able to achieve its annual target and called for the decline in production to be seriously addressed least the 18,000 employees along with their families and the country by extension are left to bear the repercussions.
“The excuse for the weak performance has been attributed to the weather and other industrial problems but what has been established is that the poor sugar production is linked to agronomic problems” Chand said, adding that “better management is also required.”
Chand said the Union over the years has pointed out to management where the problems exist – “the poor preparation of fields and untimely application of fertilizers along with industrial problems”.
He added that despite being promised improvements in the areas, another major problem is the decline in revenue which is affecting the Corporation in a comprehensive way.
He said GAWU is hopeful that the recently completed strategic plan, despite no receiving a copy will address the fundamental issues affecting the industry.
“The industry has a lot of potential to rebound as it did in 1991-1993 the plans to achieve this must be realistic and implementable” he added.
He said the Union is supportive of all plans geared towards reversing a further decline in the industry.