With all that is happening at the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), I wonder what is really going on. Are we on a road to recovery or destruction?
History has shown us that it is not easy to turn around a distressed company like GuySuCo. I said it before, that low morale prevails in GuySuCo and as can be seen from the Union’s push for better packages for their workers, something that GuySuCo cannot make better, things will only worsen. The fact of the matter is that workers will just not produce unless a better package is offered.
I personally believe that GuySuCo does have a future, with all the money invested in the new factory at Skeldon and the packaging plant at Enmore. Being cognizant of the fact that the industry employs a lot of people, all efforts must be pursued to ensure that the industry survives.
From my recent experience on the Estates where I was engaged in bed conversion of Dutch and English beds to broader beds, I am impressed with the growth of the cane in the fields. This obviously is a result of proper cultivation and agronomic practices; but what I find very disturbing is the productivity of workers.
I can safely say from observation that there was not more than fifty percent efficiency, which is saying that one worker can do the job of two workers if efficiency prevails, hence, a worker’s package can be easily doubled, thereby allowing for an increa se in productivity. As it is, I am not advocating sending anyone home; but rather more attention should be paid to beneficially allocating tasks. As we all know that there is indeed a labour shortage in the industry.
My mind questions the effectiveness of the GuySuCo Board. Observation is telling me that the Board is top heavy with financial personnel. The members of a Board are supposed to set and monitor policies to ensure the effective performance of an organisation.
But how can one set policies when they are ignorant of what an organization does? GuySuCo’s main operations are growing cane, converting it into sugar and marketing. Very technical indeed! I am sure that many Directors cannot appreciate what this is all about, so everything is left to management which can be hazardous. So how can we solve the problems?
I suggest that President Jagdeo immediately convene a Task Force with six independent persons to conduct an overview of the industry with the hope of deriving ways to make the labour force more competent.
The Board needs to be better formulated with a wide cross-section of expertise in cultivation, milling, packaging and marketing. I am aware of a turnaround plan that was recently put together for the industry, however, without stepping on anyone’s toes, it seems as though that Plan is stuck somewhere other than helping to turn the industry around.
No amount of injection of equipment can turn this industry around. The well-being of the workers must be addressed and this does not mean more money alone. When I was growing up at Cornelia Ida where I was born my grandparents and father worked on the sugar estate and they like many people working as labourers were able to buy enough food and clothes to send their children to school and save some money for a rainy day from the wages earned. This is what I mean about making the well-being better.