GAWU opposes proposed sale of Skeldon Estate

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Following reports of the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s intention to sell the Skeldon Sugar Estate, one of the major unions representing sugar workers has expressed its disapproval.

The Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU) says if indeed there are intentions to sell the Skeldon factory then it could have negative repercussions for the industry and the country as a whole.

“We see the move place the Skeldon factory on the chopping block will have negative repercussions for the industry and the country as a whole. For the workers, the communities, the cane farmers and others who are directly and indirectly linked to Skeldon Estate, such decision will certainly place their employment and welfare grave risk. At this time, we emphasize our strong disagreement with the position mooted and strongly urge the Government and GuySuCo to desist from such a course” the union said.

The Union in a release stated that such a decision will certainly place the employment and welfare of individuals at Skeldon at risk while expressing strong disagreement with such a position.

GAWU was reacting to a recent publication where the Chairman of the GuySuCo Board, Dr. Clive Thomas was quoted as saying that potential buyers have already been engaged.

According to the article published in Sunday’s edition of the Stabroek News, Dr. Thomas said the board is awaiting government’s approval. With that in mind, GAWU says its representative on that Board is unaware of such information much less that position.

It is being reported that the basis used for the proposal is the fact that the estate is in a deplorable state. However, GAWU alluded to previous comments made by the same Board chairman and the Corporation’s Annual Report last year which suggests otherwise.

“The statements that Skeldon estate is in a “deplorable” state are baseless and came out of nowhere. Moreover, we find them to be at odds with earlier statements.  We recall the Chairman of the Board saying in the November 01, 2015 Kaieteur News that:- “I am pleased with the way the Skeldon factory seems to be improving. And I know that it can do more. But this is a good sign for the industry” GAWU said.

Several recommendations from the Commission of Inquiry into the sugar sector according to the workers Union are yet to be implemented.

The facility being properly maintained and whether it will be sold at a highly reduced price for the intended buyer and calls for transparency are some of the questions being raised by GAWU.

Unconfirmed reports also suggest that one of the buyers being engaged by GuySuCo is Wartsila; a company known to conduct work in power generation.

GAWU remains puzzled as to why GuySuCo would engage Wartsila since it is unware of any track record of its credible knowledge with respect to sugar factories.

GuySuCo has reported that it would need as much as 12Billion dollars to bring the Skeldon estate up to speed, a sum which GAWU believes is overstated.

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