GuySuCo urges striking LBI workers to resume work

State-owned sugar company the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is urging striking workers at La Bonne Intention (LBI) to report for duty at their respective locations.

The call followed a strike on Tuesday by LBI workers which union representative Seepaul Narine said was as a result of a mix-up in transportation arrangements. He had said that GuySuCo was supposed to send transportation for the workers to travel to Enmore but the vehicles never showed up.

However, in a statement yesterday, GuySuCo said, “nothing could be further from the truth.” In clarifying its position, GuySuCo said that following the decision to merge the operations of the LBI and Enmore factories and consolidate production at Enmore, GuySuCo had met the workers’ unions jointly on three occasions to outline the rationale behind such a decision. “With average grinding hours of 70 per week, the LBI factory has been one of the poorest performers in the industry for a number of years. Hence, the consolidation of production to the Enmore factory which itself was experiencing a decline in grinding hours. With a steady supply of canes from both field locations to the Enmore factory this trend is expected to be reversed taking into consideration the ongoing upgrades to the facility and the impending launch of the Project Gold sugar packaging facility,” the company explained.

It said that during the encounters between the unions’ and the corporation, the workers’ representatives were allowed to ventilate their concerns arising out of this decision. All such concerns were mutually resolved, it said.

According to GuySuCo, following this process, officials of the corporation met individually with each worker to determine their placement in the presence of representatives from both the Guyana Agricultural and general Workers Union (GAWU) and the National Associa-tion of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE). “Consideration was given to their skills, experience, years of service and personal circumstances.

The corporation also exercised a great degree of flexibility with regard to personal circumstances and at the end of this session all the workers interviewed came to an amicable agreement regarding their respective placements,” the statement said.

The company explained that following this, it was the corporation’s expectation as outlined in the agreement that 88 of the 165 workers at LBI, would have reported for duty from last Tuesday to the Enmore Packaging Plant, factory and field workshop. “As is customary, lorries to transport workers to their designated locations, be it Enmore or LBI made their usual stops at the designated pick up points. However, today [yesterday] only 10 of the 100 reassigned workers boarded the Enmore lorry and reported for duty. The others in full knowledge as to the exact destination of the lorry they were boarding inexplicably decided not to report for work at Enmore but rather join the lorry which is transporting workers to LBI,” the statement said. “What is even more surprising is that some of the reassigned workers who were employed at LBI but live at Enmore in some instances a short distance from the factory, refused to turn out to work at Enmore but rather boarded the lorry to LBI where they went on strike,” it added. The statement further said that contrary to reports, GuySuCo has not made any agreement to reimburse the workers their transportation fares for the day because transportation was made available for all the workers from the two locations.

“In light of this clarification, the corporation is encouraging the workers in keeping with the spirit of cooperation which has permeated across the industry since the start of the year to report for work at their respective locations as any production opportunity lost, more so in light of the prevailing circumstances will be further detrimental to our common goal,” the statement said.

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