By Jomo Paul
[www.inewsguyana.com] – Telling a “bitter” tale of the sugar industry and the triumphs it has made only to find itself in more quandary, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo has vehemently criticized the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU) over the stance it has taken on many issues over the years.
While delivering the feature address at the Enmore Martyrs Day wreath laying ceremony at Enmore, East Coast Demerara, the Prime Minister noted with much disgust the anti-workers stance taken by the workers union.
He recalled that in 2011 when then then People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) government threatened to dissolve the unions in Guyana, he was the only person to stand up in defence of the unions in the presence of the GAWU President, Komal Chand, who did nothing to oppose the move by the PPP.
“I alone, I alone stood up against some of my friends, who threatened to derecognize GAWU, Not even the president of GAWU stood up to defend GAWU…I was threatened with expulsion…I would have welcomed that expulsion. It would have been an honour to fight for the trade union for which the sugar workers gave their lives,” said Prime Minister Nagamootoo.
He further noted, “Sugar is bitter and those who claim to be friends of sugar workers have betrayed them…I feel it in my bones.”
The Prime Minister continued his critique of GAWU, pointing out that the union criticized the sacking of the state owned Guyana Sugar Company’s (GuySuCo’s) Chief Executive Officer and the Board of Director but said nothing when millions of dollars was being wasted in the industry.
“I was shocked when the leaders of GAWU said they were very disturbed by that. They were not disturbed when they sent billions of dollars down the drain but they were disturbed when we sent Raj Singh packing,” said Nagamootoo adding, “I didn’t hear the voice of GAWU when this industry was going under.”
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister pointed out that the government is currently working on a plan of action to bail out the sugar industry from the state of bankruptcy it is in.
“A decision to give billions of dollars to find the money to bail the sugar industry out was a decision we made today,” he said while referring to the Cabinet meeting.
“No one could have told me that we could have spent $47B on a factory that could not produce the way the factories produce when the Enmore martyrs were alive…How much the former leaders loved Guyana that they were turning the industry around, they turned the industry upside down…my government would leave no stone unturned to find answers as to where we go from here,” the PM also stated.
He indicated that the APNU+AFC government has already enlisted the support of Cuba, India and the United Kingdom in its efforts to salvage what remains of the sugar industry in Guyana.
“I could not believe that our leaders hid the fact that they had bankrupted our sugar industry…that they had stolen the pension, NIS (National Insurance Scheme) pension or sugar workers at $1.2b,” Nagamootoo stated.
The Prime Minister also indicated a willingness to partner with the PPP/C to find a solution to the sugar crisis.