A sobering champion workers ceremony

Dear Editor,

`Urgent need to up sugar productivity’ (Sunday Stabroek July 18, 2010). To experienced managers and workers of the sugar industry this was a clear reference to the need to increase the sucrose content of canes; and not necessarily worker productivity.

For those who may not have known of its ethos, the Champion Sugar Worker Award was conceived and executed, as part of a package of non-monetary incentives, since the early 1980s, with specific criteria enunciated. The earliest ceremonies were held on individual estates where their colleagues could cheer the Awardees, and share in the spirited congratulatory occasion. Later it became a regional event – that is Berbice and Demerara, respectively providing an opportunity for individual estate workers and management teams to interact in a real sense of camaraderie, and incidental information sharing.

It would appear that the industry-wide coordination of the event has now been informed by dimensions other than celebratory. The sense of urgency, as expressed in SS headlines, came across as dampening the elation that Awardees and colleagues should have been feeling, at least in sharing rare space with the supreme decision-makers of the industry in a spirit of pronounced conviviality.

Moreso, as KN’s Sunday Editorial commented, the audience was unwittingly embroiled in a distracting controversy about the challenges facing the industry, and who were the parties culpable of the noted shortfalls.

From the worker’s standpoint the Union’s argument would likely have gained enough empathy, leaving management to ponder whether the ‘convention’, in the final analysis, was a good idea.

In terms of the efficacy of the communication process, the message of the impact of the loss of ‘euro’ earnings on the industry, may have been better understood if instead it was presented with a greater emphasis on identifiable targets to be achieved. For it is the exceptional performance required to achieve agreed targets which inspires champions of the field, factory and related services.

It is now left to each estate management team to take their various workgroups into their training rooms, and by practical examples of the financial effect on their individual budgets, explain in local understandable terms how the cash position on that location will be affected, if productivity were improved.

The portentous reference to the bankruptcy of transnational corporations can bear little resonance amidst an occasion designed for the exciting embrace of congratulations.

Yours faithfully,
E. B. John

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