Sugar workers frustrated with GuySuCo’s financial woes

FILE PHOTO: Workers gathered outside of the Uitvlugt Estate factory on May 27, 2020 as they downed tools regarding hours of work and outstanding payment

Sugar workers are growing frustrated with the financial woes of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) since it is resulting in the nonpayment of their salaries.

Reports are that the Sugar Corporation does not have enough funds to pay workers’ salaries for July. GuySuCo is said to be awaiting a disbursement of $750M from the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) to make these payments.

General Secretary of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU), Seepaul Narine, told this publication that the organisation is having difficulties contacting GuySuCo on this issue and that no information is forthcoming.

“They didn’t inform us by letter, which they normally do. We learnt of this situation in the media and we’re trying to get into touch with them but we can’t find anybody. This is a situation that since last month, they’ve been saying that they don’t have money. The government transferred $200 million and they were supposed to get another 750 million,” Narine explained.

Indeed, last month, GuySuCo was also unable to pay workers and meet expenses owing to a lack of finance. After the company’s state-of-affairs was highlighted in the media, the caretaker government intervened and released funds to keep the firm afloat for a period of time.

Promises were made by caretaker President David Granger over one year ago to have this money transferred but there is still conflict between NICIL and GUYSUCO over the disbursement.

“More than a year ago, President Granger said at Albion that he would have the money transferred to GuySuCo. That never happened. What we’re seeing now is a quarrel between GuySuCo and NICIL for the transfer of funds. We saw in the newspaper where NICIL has said between the talks between themselves and GUYSCUCO, that they would’ve release the other 750 million. The fact that GuySuCo is saying that they don’t have money to pay salaries is saying that the money was not transferred. It appears as if its old wine in new bottle. These people have no vision in GuySuCo,” the General Secretary opined.

The Union official said on the economic side of the situation, sugar workers depend on their wages to provide for their families and due to the meager 5% increase in five years, it is even more important.

“It’s frustrating because work opportunity had been reduced and is currently out of crop. People depend on their wages from payday to payday because they haven’t had any increases for five years and this year, they had the five percent. They still have the retroactive outstanding as well. The point is people were not able to earn and save over the period and it’s already difficult. Now its going to be devastating.”