The GAWU has continued to follow very closely and with great anxiety, the second sugar crop production. The Union learnt that as of October 24, production for the crop stood at 35,397 tonnes of sugar. Thus, the industry is required to produce 40,446 tonnes of sugar if it is to realise its target of 75,843 tonnes. Production at the individual estates was as follows:-
With half of the scheduled crop weeks already completed, production at Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt estates stood at 43.3 per cent, 42.2 per cent and 64.9 per cent respectively of their crop target. Taking into account the remaining scheduled weeks, it appears to us that the industry will not be able to realise its set target. The GAWU, taking an average of the weekly production over the last five (5) weeks, when the estates operated normally, has determined production would be as follows:-
We have also considered an extension of the crop until the third week of December 2019, assuming there is fair weather for production, and estimated production to reach as follows:-
While, in all likelihood, the Corporation will extend its crop as far as practicable, our analysis, at this time, indicates that the extension will still result in a shortfall of the crop target.
Information reaching the Union indicates that contrary to previous statements by the Corporation, the factories continue to experience difficulties. In fact, some officials in GuySuCo have shared with us that they cannot understand what is really taking place. The GAWU has learnt that the factories suffer breakdowns many times not too long after they would have undergone their weekly maintenance. It brings into question what is taking place at the level of the management of the industry’s factories. What’s even more disheartening is that the Corporation, in recent times, has bolstered its factory operations department, it appears, this unacceptable situation persists. It may well be the case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.
The GAWU has been informed that factory breakdowns during the ongoing second crop totalled 495 hours as follows:-
Albion – 253 hours
Blairmont – 96 hours
Uitvlugt – 146 hours
While we expect the Corporation to tell us and the public that lack of investment is the main culprit, we, at the same time, must ask again what happened to the monies secured to re-capitalise the industry and to address the very issues that are popping up with too much regularity.
If our information is correct, we also must be concerned about the approach of the management in addressing factory issues.
We learnt that the workers of the Uitvlugt factory during the daytime hours on October 20 informed the management about a developing issue at the factory. The workers urged that production be stopped and the issue remedied. This suggestion was not considered. During the evening of October 20, with the issue becoming more pronounced, the workers again urged the management to stop the factory and allow the problem to be rectified. This request again was turned down. When the factory was finally stopped on October 21, it took nearly 24 hours for the problem to be remedied, at some cost to the Corporation. The workers shared with us that had the factory been stopped when the issue was first noticed, it would have taken a few hours at most to fix the issue and at far less cost and downtime.
At Albion, too, we have learnt that one issue regarding the boilers had to be fixed twice in a short time. Workers shared with us that, on the first occasion, appropriate time was not allowed for the curing process that was required. As a result, the issue re-appeared in a week’s time and the factory had to be out of operation for nearly one (1) day. This is simply unacceptable and brings into obvious question the competence of some of the Corporation’s staffers.
At the end of the day, the workers are the biggest victims. The Corporation, we understand, has generally been satisfied with worker turnout this crop. We also learnt that punt weights have generally been acceptable, except at Uitvlugt where some further checks are necessary. It, therefore, seems to indicate that the workers are fulfilling their obligations, yet the estates cannot achieve their weekly targets and are thus, denying workers their incentives. In some instances, estates have operated beyond their budgeted weekly production hours and yet the weekly targets are not realised. Definitely, and undoubtedly, something is wrong and is serving to daunt workers’ spirits who, at this time, are giving their best efforts.
We urge the Corporation, to critically examine the situation obtaining in the factories. As President David Granger did say, during his recent visit to Albion Estate, “[w]e are not here to merely survive; we are here to thrive! We are here to guarantee employees’ livelihoods. We are here to guarantee sugar’s position in the national economy. We are here to safeguard the rural economy”. The GAWU believes, also at this time, that the Corporation needs to actively follow up the assurance given by Mr Granger as President since June, this year, that “…the $30 billion syndicated bond that has been secured by the Special Projects Unit (SPU) of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) is transferred to GuySuCo within a short space of time so that urgent needs can be met”.
Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU)