The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), the bargaining agent for thousands of workers in Guyana’s sugar sector who are employed by the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco), has to be sensitive to many issues related to what amounts to a management crisis – or challenge – in the Corporation’s hierarchy.
GAWU, by no means, intends to be “triumphant”, declaring an “I told you so” position. Rather, the Union can use the latest revelations to re-iterate its principled positions, founded on factual evidence, that GUYSUCO, so pivotal to the country’s economy, was guilty of too many areas of consistent mis-management and needless extravagance – now, seemingly, the product of corrupt managerial practices and procedures. The losses of GUYSUCO – engineered billions, tend to destablise both the corporation, the industry and the stability the workforce needs in terms of fair wages for battling the weather, working-conditions and external challenges just to meet GUYSUCO’s production targets.
The latest allegations and counter-responses surrounding the termination of Asrodeen Shaw, GUYSUCO’s Management of its Material Management Department, one of the dismissals in recent months, just confirm the Union’s long-standing positions and exhortations that the Corporation’s practices were responsible for too many millions in losses annually. And this was against the background of other dubious management decisions such as OUTSOURCING of certain services to certain contractors; reports of visible, blatant idling of vital Guysuco owned machines; financial billion-dollar losses and fiascoes of Booker-Tate contractors and the Skeldon bungling, not to mention the astonishingly low three (3) per cent across-the-board wage increase by an Arbitration Tribunal towards the end of last year (2009).
As stated before, GAWU is responsible enough to realize that this is no time for blowing its own trumpets. We can, however, remind our members, especially, that before that very Tribunal we had argued against GUYSUCO’s mis-management. We had quoted from two independent Reports issued by an UITVLUGT REVIEW COMMITTEE and a COMMISSION OF ENQUIRE AT THE EAST DEMERARA ESTATES. The malpractices discovered and revealed at these two (2) locations provided insights of disturbing managerial short-comings across the industry.
So we conclude that the latest Procurement/Materials Managements charges are merely indicative of a wider Guysuco managerial malaise. GAWU welcomes Chairman Dr Gopaul’s assurances of audits “on procurement, Guysuco’s accounting system and… in cultivation to examine whether there were neglect on the part of senior management”, with several cases of neglect over the years being found.
We resist the urge to say “too late, too late”. Rather we invite Guysuco to listen, to pay heed to the Union’s industrial intelligence and others much more often if this vital Sector is to become sustainable once again.