Following what has been deemed the Guyana Sugar Corporation’s (GuySuCo) lowest production in the history of the industry, the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers’ Union (GAWU) has made fresh calls for the removal of the corporation’s Chief Executive Officer, Sasenarine Singh.
But President Dr Irfaan Ali told the Union that there is no need “to send separate messages” and that there must be a collective effort by all stakeholders to help the industry reach its fullest potential.
GuySuCo’s production for the first crop was only 13, 076 compared to the target of 20, 261 tonnes. That target, which is lower than usual, was set to cushion the effects of last year’s devastating floods.
“It simply was an appalling performance, the lowest first crop output in the history of the Corporation.
“We have heard the explanations of weather, labour, and machinery. Such rationales, we contend, are over-exemplified to obscure the real issue which is poor leadership and management of the industry,” GAWU’s President Seepaul Narine stated.
He was speaking at the commemoration of the 74th anniversary of the Enmore Martyrs on Thursday evening in the presence of President Ali, other government officials, unions and members of the diplomatic corps.
“We cannot allow the slide to continue.
“As the saying goes ‘Heads must roll’ and this should start from the topmost executive,” Narine added.
And as such, he called on President Ali to prevent “the ineptness to embarrass your government any longer.”
This is not the first time that GAWU has called for Singh’s removal on the grounds of incompetence; in May this year, they wrote a letter to the President detailing their grouse.
But President Ali, in response to Narine’s remarks on Thursday evening, called him to the podium and after asking him pointed questions about the unprecedented rainfall experienced and the state that the PPP government met the industry, he said, “I am not saying to you that management issue must not be addressed but we need to have an honest conversation and in that honest conversation, the union has a place, the success of this industry is not only about government, it is the collective effort of all of us who are part of the industry.”
The Head of State recently held a meeting with the management of GuySuCo at State House and spoke about the need for them to be more effective, efficient, and results-driven, noting that it will not be business as usual.
“We want the industry to survive, we can’t fight each other for this, we have to support each other for this, we have to embrace a series of measures and plans that support this,” President Ali said on Thursday, highlighting that the government has already pumped millions of dollars to help revitalise the industry.
President Ali also called for collective responsibility of the industry, stating that GAWU is a member of GuySuCo’s board and therefore cannot only hold the management responsible.
“We are together in this, there is no need to send separate messages to workers, our narrative is clear, it is consistent, we don’t change our narrative and as we campaigned, we said we will bring back the sugar industry and keep the industry,” President Ali stated.
In addition to Narine, the Head of State then proceeded to call the President of the Federation of Independent Trade Union (FITUG) Carvil Duncan to the podium, held their hands in unison and urged them to work towards the improvement of sugar workers and GuySuCo.
“I commit to you as President, hand in hand with the representatives of workers, never ever to allow these attributes and these funding philosophies of the government I serve to ever be lost in honesty and dignity.
“Forward ever for workers and workers’ dignity.”