Sugar industry pay hike talks to resume this week

Pay hike talks between the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and GAWU are expected to resume this week, but the union said yesterday that a meeting was still to be scheduled.

President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Worker’s Union (GAWU), Komal Chand said the corporation is likely to communicate with the union “anytime”. The union wrote to GuySuCo last week calling for the talks to resume; this followed the end of a 7-day strike which crippled operations across the industry.

Chand told Stabroek News that sugar workers are back on the job, but that harsh conditions as a result of the weather are posing problems. He said this is affecting burning, in addition to harvesting and production.

Skeldon factory, which is beset with problems, is one of two factories grinding cane across the industry; Rose Hall is the second. Grinding has halted at the remaining estates because of routine maintenance work as well as an insufficient supply of cane.

Production figures remain largely unchanged since the crippling industrial action by GAWU. The industry produced 720 tonnes yesterday while overall production for the second crop stood at 121,940 tonnes. To date, production for the year is 203,804 tonnes.

GuySuCo had projected that 250,000 tonnes sugar was achievable by December 31, 2010 and through the continuation of the crop in January, 2011 the higher thresholds would be realized, but GAWU rejected this saying only 230,000 tonnes was possible.

Production for both crops this year fell below target, and the corporation had referred to the industrial action as a deliberate attempt by the union to cripple the industry. GuySuCo even made mention of its markets calling the strike “ill-advised”.

Government has also had to bail out the corporation with much needed capital injection this year, in addition to $2 billion to address the backlog of creditors.

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