Sugar workers’ unions settle for 5% pay raise

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has agreed to accept a 5% pay raise for sugar workers, retroactive to January 1st, 2011, in light of GuySuCo’s “cash-strapped” state, which includes over $6B in debts.

GAWU and GuySuCo concluded wage negotiations on Tuesday, while the other sugar workers’ union, the National Association of Agricultural, l Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), approved a five per cent (5%) wage/salary increase by agreement on July 8.

Although GAWU had originally been lobbying for a 12% increase, its negotiators “unanimously approved” the 5% pay rise. “Members of the negotiating team paid cognizance to the Audited Statement of the Corporation for 2010 and the Management Accounts as at May 31, 2011 which indicates that the cash-strapped Corporation for the first five months of this year is indebted to creditors and bankers to the tune of the over six (6) billion dollars,” GAWU said in a statement today.
It added that GuySuCo is expecting that this year’s revenue from molasses and sugar production would enable it to break-even at the end of the year. In early July, the production target was revised to 282,712 tonnes, from the 298, 879 tonnes set at the beginning of the year, GAWU noted.

The Union said too that in the course of the negotiations, it insisted that GuySuCo furnishes all relevant information to allow its negotiators to be fully acquainted with facts. “The Union was wary that an acceptance of the Corporation’s five per cent (5%) offer should not be accepted automatically without the completion of the process…,” it explained.

GAWU also urged that GuySuCo’s Board of Directors and its Management team be tireless in putting the new Skeldon factory right, “so that the Estate’s targeted yearly production of 110,000 tonnes would be realized by the end of 2012-the newly set date of the Corporation.” It further noted that special attention must also be paid to ensure that the current field expansion work is progressing within the approved time-frame, and that the field layout, adequate roads, irrigation canals, drainage trenches etc are properly constructed.

According to GAWU, this year is the first time in six years that it reached an accord with GuySuCo at bilateral negotiations. Further, it said that it is also the first time since collective bargaining was restored between the Union and the Corporation in 1989 when wage-settlement was reached months before the end of the year.
GuySuCo has invited GAWU to append the agreement at its Ogle’s Training Centre at midday today.

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