GuySuCo will not negotiate with Union via media – CEO to GAWU President

Sugar workers’ protest…

…says 102% of earnings spent to pay wages
…admits to owing $113M to GAWU, Credit Union

GuySuCo CEO Sasenarine Singh

The Guyana Sugar Corporation will not negotiate wages and salary increases with unions through the media. That is according to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Sasenarine Singh.
“We are committed to the workers. We will do everything within our power to make something happen… I cannot negotiate in the media, and I will not negotiate in the media; and whoever wants to negotiate in the media, I say to them,’Go ahead’!” the CEO said on Wednesday.
His comments came in the wake of a one-day strike and protest by workers attached to the Blairmount and Albion Estates on Monday over unsettled wage increases.
The actions of the workers, which were backed by the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU), were aimed at pressuring the Corporation to address a retroactive wage hike for 2019.
However, Singh has said that GuySuCo remains committed to doing everything in its power to ensure that the important elements are serviced.
“And the most important element in the industry is its human force. We have no doubts about that,” he reiterated.

GAWU President Seepaul Narine

However, the CEO pointed out that, in 2020, GuySuCo spent 102 percent of its earned revenue to pay wages and salaries.
“On top of that, you have the audacity to tell us that we are not trying out best? Where are we going to get more from?” the CEO said as he called on all stakeholders to work in a collaborative manner to rebuild GuySuCo.
Singh said some persons are trying to misrepresent the truth. Only recently, an executive of GAWU said there were 30 persons hired at the executive level and were being paid high salaries.
But Singh is claiming that when he took up the position at the helm of the corporation in August 2020, all of the current heads of departments were working with the corporation, and the only change there has been is that the communications officer has been replaced.
“There is no hiring going on there. The communications person was a clean switch from one person to another person…”
Singh added that Government gave $9 billion to GuySuCo between September last year and December this year.
Meanwhile, a letter released on Wednesday by the company’s communications team said two persons were hired at the head office after August 2020.
In explaining its position, GuySuCo said its compensation package is governed by the Hays Job Evaluation Methodology.
The Hays Method of Job Evaluation measures jobs by assessing three distinct factors – the knowledge needed to do the job, the problem solving/thinking required by the job, and the extent to which the job is accountable, within procedure, policy and managerial control/ supervision, for achieving its objectives. (G4)
According to GuySuCo, it has been unable to meet the recommended rates for the senior staff since 2013. It notes that the corporation’s salary rates are below the average senior management salary rates in the Public Service and Private Sector.
The release was in response to allegations made by the President of GAWU, Seepaul Narine, warning the Corporation of the dangers of ‘top-heavy’ management by saying that it would soon run the industry into trouble.
GuySuCo, in its response, acknowledged that it owes $113 million to GAWU and its Credit Union, noting that an agreement was made to pay $2 million per week to clear the inherited debt.
The Corporation has expressed surprise at Narine’s claims that GuySuCo is unwilling to sit at the bargaining table, saying that GAWU is aware the corporation made a loss of approximately G$3.8 billion last year.
“In 2020, GuySuCo spent 102 percent of its earned revenue to pay wages and salaries. This meant (that) without financial support from the Shareholders, the Corporation could not have met its wages bill,” GuySuCo said.
According to the Corporation, the 2017 Independent Audited Financial Statement of GuySuCo made it clear that by way of the Vesting Order of December 30, 2017, called the GuySuCo (Transfer of Property) Order 45 of 2017, “all moveable and immovable property of Wales, Skeldon, East Demerara and Rose Hall” were transferred to NICIL. But the uniqueness of this dysfunctional transaction, as stated in that public document, acknowledged that “the liabilities of the vested estates remained with the Corporation”. Further, there is nothing “fairly straightforward” about a business that has the External Auditors declaring that “the validity of the going concern basis on which the consolidated finance statements are prepared is dependent on the continued support from the Government of Guyana”.
The management of the corporation and GAWU are scheduled to meet on May 4 to discuss the wages issue.