All those who have struggled consistently for the modernisation of the Skeldon sugar factory must certainly now feel a great sense of betrayal that finally the Chinese will manage the factory without the consultation of the main union Guyana Agricultural and General Workers‘ Union (GAWU). As a former field secretary of the GAWU I still hold very strongly that we have the expertise to manage this factory. No one can deny that the GAWU and its members played a leading role in the great struggle of the sugar industry and a return to democratic rule in Guyana.
The union through consistent struggles and militant action has defied the World Bank study which required the closure of the Demerara estates. It is prudent to draw attention to the recent revelation about some Indian and Chinese companies operating in Africa that are engaged in the exploitation of workers.
We can walk between the raindrops of conformism and transformation of the Skeldon factory if we commit to principles and prudent management. Our performance and forecast in the economic/financial sphere up to the end of 1997 was positive.
I therefore believe that Guyana should struggle not only to retain its expertise, but also to expand it in the sugar factories. The public sector should not be denied that right. Having said this, I would hasten to add that if we are to succeed in holding on to the Skeldon sugar factory, it is clear that we must improve performance and production. In this regard we will need a combination of several factors. We will need skilled managers and the dedication of our workers. The Guyanese people have acquired great experience in the sugar industry and given the opportunity now without political interference, they will be able to make very valuable contributions.
Former GAWU Field Secretary