Sugar Workers becoming agitated

Thousands of field and factory workers who are members of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) are becoming agitated upon hearing that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (Guysuco) will not pay them their Holiday-with-Pay (HWP) – one (1) week pay – on (Friday) May 25, 2012.

Guysuco informed the Union by letter dated May 18, 2012 as follows:-

“As you are aware by practice, qualified workers are usually awarded Holiday With Pay no more than two weeks after the closure of a crop. Toward that end, those estates which ceased grinding during week-ending May 11, 2012 should be effecting payment of the award on week ending 25th May, 2012.

Unfortunately due to our unfavourable cash flow situation, we are not in a situation to make that payment.”

HWP is payable two (2) weeks after an estate closes its crop. Therefore, Albion, Rose Hall, Enmore, Wales and Uitvlugt Estates ought to be ready to pay workers their HWP on (Friday) May 25, 2012. The workers at Skeldon and Blairmont Estates, which are still grinding, will become eligible for the HWP two (2) weeks after the end of the crop at those estates.

The core reason for the Corporation’s consistent depleted financial state relates to its failure to attain, even close, its production targets. At the end of last week (May 18, 2012) Guysuco produced only 70,027 tonnes sugar out of its target of 101,813 tonnes sugar. Even if the weather had been favourable, the estates that ended their crop simply did not have the quantity of canes to assist meaningfully in realizing the crop’s target. A source advised if the seven (7) grinding estate had been facilitated by good weather to harvest their entire crop no more than 84,000 tonnes of sugar would have been obtained.

Further, the Corporation is unable to adopt a strategy whereby it could effectively use its human, mechanical and other resources to harvest its (first) crop within the weeks of favourable weather condition. It is the Corporation’s responsibility to review its management practices to ensure that the maximum production is realized and no blame in this regard should be solely the workers. GAWU wants the Corporation to secure financial support “from whatever legal source” to pay workers their deferred wages – HWP. The Corporation must also identify a positive date of the payment.

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