GAWU still to discuss response to GUYSUCO’s denial of pay increase
Sugar workers protested yesterday for the second time this week and according to the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) this action followed an unfavourable meeting between the Union and the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) on October 19, 2016 regarding pay increase.
GAWU said during the meeting, the Sugar Corporation’s representative adopted a strange, disrespectful and disdainful attitude.
This behaviour the Union claims was vexing to the workers from the different estates that were in attendance, resulting in a less than cordial meeting.
At the meeting, GuySuCo informed the negotiations team that the financial constraints do not allow the Corporation to offer a pay increase again this year. This would mean that it is the second consecutive year that employees of the sugar industry are being denied an increase in pay.
This dire message, in effect, GAWU states represents another blow to the livelihood of the some 17,000 workers and their families and is an unacceptable stance.
According to the Union, while GuySuCo constantly harps on its financial state, the workers and the Union are shocked to learn that a few of the Corporation’s hierarchy earned $396M in 2015.
The Union expressed the view that the Corporation is engaged with unnecessary work, if not wasteful spending at this time, especially upon learning of plans to spend a huge sum of $500M on diversification initiatives as well as a further $1.5B on a road from Wales to Uitvlugt.
GAWU argued that the GuySuCo stance of not offering pay rises for 2015 and 2016 is serving to diminish workers’ morale and commitment which is counterproductive.
The Union stressed the need for the Corporation to invest in its human capital – its most important asset – and noted that the general well-being of the workers is also declining taking into account the rising cost-of-living.
The Union argued too that the Corporation can have a viable and sustainable future and re-emphasized diversification into electricity production, white sugar and alcohol.
GAWU says it will consider collectively a response to this latest injustice.
According to a statement from the sugar corporation, it had made a loss of over G$16 Billion in 2015; and that the projected loss for 2016 and 2017 would be almost G$13 Billion and more than G$12 Billion respectively.
The Government had provided a subsidy to the tune of G$12 Billion in 2015 and G$9 Billion in 2016, in addition to a $3.5 Billion sought.
It said the Union was also advised that in 2017, the Corporation would require a further subsidy of more than G$18 Billion against a backdrop of lower production, reduced market prices, resulting in lower revenue.
During a Press Conference on Friday, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon said the Finance Ministry is still considering the Corporation’s request for additional monies.