GAWU voices concern over clear danger to sugar industry

-calls for political dialogue on governance

The main sugar workers’ union yesterday expressed grave concern over the state of the sugar industry and urged the revamping of the GuySuCo board.

“From GAWU’s perspective the most negative occurrence in the recent history of the Republic is the real, clear and present danger to Guyana’s sugar industry which employs thousands of our members. The blame game can never restore the fortunes of this life line economic industry. A revamped GuySuCo board and management skill sets; motivation for harvesters and factory workers to returns to the fields and ancillary projects, among other things, all must combine to bring sugar back,” the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) said in its Republic Anniversary message.

While traditionally closely aligned to the PPP/C, GAWU has taken an increasingly critical and independent line over the government’s and GuySuCo’s handling of the industry. Years of poor sugar production and financial results and intractable problems at the intended flagship Skeldon factory have left analysts pondering the fate of the industry, which managed an output of 186,807 tonnes last year, the lowest on record in GuySuCo’s history. GuySuCo had to readjust the 2013 target on multiple occasions, going from 240,000 tonnes and eventually settling on 203,000 tonnes. Last year, Skeldon was expected to produce just under 40,000 tonnes of sugar. To date, GuySuCo has not released the factory’s actual output.

Meanwhile, the union also called for political dialogue at the highest levels to settle the country’s problems in a move that would also be seen as a divergence from the PPP/C line that the opposition has behaved irresponsibly.

“Elsewhere in the Republic GAWU sees the need for political dialogue at the highest levels to resolve differences affecting the productive management of the state, its resources and governance. Selfish “victories” should not prevent brilliant minds from both sides of the aisle, to bargain agreements to overcome parliamentary, budgetary, legislative or even judicial challenges. The 2011 electorate expects nothing less from our parliamentary legislators and political representatives,” it said.

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