GAWU ‘disappointed and disturbed’ at 2022 performance of sugar industry

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The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) says it is “disappointed and disturbed” by the “underwhelming performance” of the sugar industry for the year 2022.

With the sugar industry failing to meet its targets for the year, GAWU, in a press release on Friday, noted that it remains concerned about the management of the industry, among other things.

According to the latest data provided by GAWU, the industry produced approximately 47,011 tonnes of sugar at the Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt estates, falling 17,878 tonnes short of its 64,889 tonnes annual production estimate.

The press release noted that the annual production estimate was derived after a thorough and vigorous examination of the canes in the fields, but according to GAWU, the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) has used the weather and workers to justify its performance.

“While workers are scapegoated, the industry harvested nearly all its canes, except for a small amount at Albion after the rains brought the crop to an end,” GAWU noted in the release.

GAWU noted that over time the industry has lost critical skills arising from attrition and retirement; it noted that exodus has hastened in recent times arising from differences of opinions among personalities.

GAWU noted that the industry has recruited contractors to undertake tasks at rates higher than it pays its own employees and that the acquisition of unsuitable machinery and equipment was also brought to the union’s attention.

“We share the view expressed by Vice President Dr Bharrat Jagdeo that there is a need to strengthen the industry’s management cadre to replace lost skills and to bring new ways of thinking in addressing present-day challenges,” GAWU wrote.

The sugar company has notified the union of its efforts in advancing its packaged sugar sales and its securing new markets, something the union believes is encouraging but noted that it needs to be supplemented by improved production and productivity at all the estates.

The industry hopes to reach an annual production estimate of 100,000 tonnes for 2023, a figure that the union believes can be surpassed with a committed workforce and capable management.

“The Union and the workers remain appreciative of the efforts of President Dr Irfaan Ali and his Government in supporting the industry. We believe the investments, once properly and adequately utilized, can make a meaningful difference,” the release noted.

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