Over $700M lost due to 60+ strikes – GuySuCo

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The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) lost some $740 million in revenue in 2021 as a direct result of 63 strike actions by employees across the functional sugar estates.

A report from the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Sasenarine Singh on Friday stated that some 20,000 “man days” were lost as a result of strike actions.

October, said to be the most favourable month of the year for sugar production, was highlighted as the month with the most strikes.

“There were strikes for issues that were unrelated to the operations in the sugar sector – strike for G$250,000 cash grant and strike for flood relief – the adverse financial impact of those October strikes totalled some G$378 million,” the report noted.

Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Sasenarine Singh

GuySuCo also faced a double whammy, ending the year with 58,025 tonnes of sugar in 2021 compared to 88,890 tonnes in 2020.

Despite the challenges from unprecedented floods, described as the “worst in 40 years on the sugar belt,” Singh stated that GuySuCo was able to soldier on and continue production “to beat the prediction in September 2021 that the industry will not pass the 50,000 metric tonnes mark.”

According to the report, some 4,300 hectares (HT) of sugar canes were destroyed and GuySuCo was only able to rehabilitate some 38 per cent of the damaged canes.

“I have seen nothing but champions by their thousands across the sugar belt who, over the last year, worked tirelessly to drain some 4.5 million tonnes of water from the flooded lands every day during those 65 days and this herculean effort that allowed the industry to save the remaining surviving cane and secure a second crop for 2022,” he continued.

Meanwhile, GuySuCo was able to secure small wins; it was able to meet its obligations of the local brown sugar market for 2021 and is expected to have enough brown sugar stored until Valentine’s Day 2022 when the factories are expected to recommence grinding.

Further, GuySuCo announced the launch of a “forward-looking marketing strategy” to advance the sale of value-added packaged sugar (Demerara Gold and Enmore Crystals brands) on international markets.

The government has been pumping billions into the sugar industry after it was devastated by the actions of the previous administration when it shut down three factories, putting thousands out of a job.

Just recently, GuySuCo received another $3.8 billion in supplementary funding, much of which will go towards the $250,000 one-off grant to sugar workers who were left jobless.

Sugar workers also benefited from a seven per cent retroactive salary increase.

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