(The Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc. (GuySuCo), Georgetown, August 15, 2016) GuySuCo wishes to address matters which were disseminated by the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and published in the press. Based on the statements made and the unjustifiable strike actions called in a Corporation that is challenged, GuySuCo has concluded that GAWU has one single objective, and that is to close the Corporation down, for reasons which the Corporation does not fully understand.
Over the years, GAWU has constructed this fictional enemy called GuySuCo, and has somehow managed to be successful at convincing our employees who are their members, that GuySuCo is the enemy, and have been using the employees to fight against their employer. This approach is only in the best interest of the Union, since it gives them relevance. This Corporation that GAWU has painted as the enemy to our employees; is actually the business that provides them with a livelihood and other benefits such as, free health care service for them and their family members, among others. If the Corporation is not productive neither the wages nor the additional benefits can be sustained. Our employees need to understand that they play a key role in ensuring the sustainability of the Corporation.
GuySuCo is of the view that GAWU is not a stakeholder that is seriously interested in the business and the survival of the Corporation and by extension, ensuring that its members have job security. After a poor first crop, enormous efforts were made by the Corporation to ensure a successful Second Crop which commenced two weeks ago. Instead of the Union being supportive and demonstrating that it is a responsible stakeholder; it continues to call strikes left, right and center for reasons which can be dealt with while the workers continue to perform their duties and earning their wages.
It is essential to note, that discussions on the consolidation of the East Demerara Estate (EDE) started in April, 2016 and concluded on August 3, 2016 between the Corporation and GAWU. The Union was represented by the General Secretary along with Shop Stewarts who were present at all of those meetings and concerns raised, were addressed.
GAWU continues to plot its sinister plan against GuySuCo by claiming that it has been making attempts to dialogue with the Corporation by sending numerous correspondences expressing that position. As of today, no correspondence was received by GuySuCo from GAWU on this matter.
With regards to the employees not receiving a disturbance allowance; GuySuCo and GAWU has an agreement that the disturbance allowance is paid when employees are required to leave their home Estate to assist on another Estate. However, in this instance, East Demerara is one Estate, so the disturbance allowance would not be applicable. It is important to note that one of the reasons why the Union is insisting that the employees refuse to take up work at Enmore is because they would like them to continue to receive the disturbance allowance even though it would not be applicable anymore.
On the point that the employees will be working for less if they accept work at Enmore, here again the Union is misleading the employees since they are piece-rate paid and are paid based on productivity and not based on time spent on the job This basically means that they are in control of their earnings; the more work they accept, the higher their earnings.
With regards to the comments that the employees are forcibly transferred; it is inconceivable that this is the view of the Union. The Corporation wishes to reiterate that several meetings were held with the General Secretary and Shop Stewards where they were informed of these transfers which were in keeping with Cap. 99:08 of the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA); therefore the actions of GAWU is impeding the Corporation’s efforts to reorganize its operations in a bid to ensure job security for its employees.
On the point of the cane cutters, shovelmen, some weeders, fertilizing hands, cane planters and others continuing to work at La Bonne Intention (LBI) cultivation, this has never been an issue for GuySuCo, since the LBI section of the cultivation forms part of the EDE.
The Union also stated that they would like the situation to return to normalcy but the issues have to be addressed. A key point to note is that the Union’s interpretation of normalcy is for all of its requests to be granted; the Corporation considers this to be a threat to its business. Additionally, many things are not normal in the Corporation, it is currently struggling to adapt to its ‘new normal’ state.
Finally, the Union has to come to terms with the fact that GuySuCo is a business and has to be managed as one. During these challenging times, focus has to be on optimizing production; it is hoped that GAWU will embrace the strategic programme to turn around the fortunes of the Corporation – if GuySuCo is unable to generate revenue the employees would not be paid and the 80,000 people who are depending on the Corporation, will be adversely affected.