[wwww.inewsguyana.com] – The Government of Guyana is urging all sugar workers and their unions to help in rescuing the industry, which it noted for the first time in years, has reached and surpassed weekly targets.
A statement from the government on November 06 encouraged sugar workers to remain committed to their jobs and with the holiday season approaching, to earn as much as they can before the current crop comes to an end.
According to the statement, the Government finds as most disturbing the agitation, mainly by GAWU, for workers to engage in strike action. Sugar workers are asking for a 9% salary increase and discussions between the union and GuySuCo are at a standstill.
“Such action could cripple operations and close down the sugar industry. This is especially alarming and regrettable now that efforts are being made to breathe life into the industry,” the statement noted.
It was noted that the APNU+AFC government has been looking at all options to revive the industry, which was placed in a state of bankruptcy and almost total ruin by the former government with a $82B debt.
Below are the “PERTINENT FACTS” as revealed by the administration:
- Production slumped from 327,000 metric tonnes in the 1960s to an average of below 250,000 tonnes between 2008 and 2014
- Under the former regime, the sugar industry never came close to realizing the promised 500,000 tonnes target
- Between 2009 and 2015 GuySuCo not only failed to make a profit but suffered estimated total losses of $67.8 BILLION
- When the last administration left office, GuySuCo’s debt burden stood at $82 BILLION
According to the statement, it is for this reason that the Coalition Government supported a Commission of Inquiry into the sugar industry. The interim report has confirmed the poor and declining state of GuySuCo as a result of political interference, poor management and squandermania.
Ten year road map and action plan
According to the statement, after a mere five months in office, the Coalition Government is seeking to put a Ten Year Road Map and Action Plan in place, aimed at returning the industry to viability.
“It would therefore be ill advised and indeed premature to commence wages talks before this plan is considered. Unions that seek to drag the sugar corporation to the table to do so are obviously pursuing a political agenda which unfortunately is not in the interest of sugar workers,” the statement noted.
“Due to its virtual insolvent status under the former regime, taxpayers were forced to dole out $28 BILLION in the last five years alone (2011 – 2015) to keep the sugar industry afloat. With its debt load of $82 BILLION and an expected $5 BILLION needed for capital investment together with anticipated further bailout in 2016, any strike action in the industry would bring sugar finally to its knees.”
In the meantime Government is analysing the interim findings and recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry.