Under Mr. Raj Singh, Guysuco has gone backwards

Dear Editor,

The response from Mr. Neville Harricharan (SN July 7th) replying to my letter captioned `Guysuco’s primary problem is not industrial relations; it is production and productivity (SN July 4th)’ was quite instructive.  I use the word instructive since it is not, nor has it ever been my intention to malign another’s character especially Mr. Raj Singh.  I have said it over and over again that from the records and from my discussion with a senior official of CUNY, Mr. Raj Singh is a human resources professional and for that skill set I value him.  But I cannot stand and watch in silence his continued imposition on Guysuco which will only exacerbate the challenges in the sugar belt rather than turn around the industry.  Mr. Raj Singh has been chairman since 2011 and has been on the Board for years before that and thus we have a record on his leadership skills in the industry.  The facts remain his record in the sugar belt is one of abject failure.  Why continue this disaster?

Under Mr. Raj Singh, Guysuco has gone backwards, not forwards!

The post-Jagan PPP are classic bullies so they will do what they always have done in the past – impose bad solutions on a deteriorating situation.  That is how small minds think!  They are more interested in their personal pockets and jobs for their friends rather than the well-being of the 100,000 mouths who feed from the sugar belt.

Mr. Raj Singh should withdraw himself from the process and make way for the required talent to join the sugar belt.  Keeping himself in the equation will only deem Mr. Raj Singh the maker of his own self-inflicted problems that he will not be able to deflect to others, especially the workers as the industry continues to crumble.  I am saying now and I will say again, Mr. Raj Singh will fail at Guysuco either as the Chairman or as the CEO since he does not have the required skill sets to turn around the industry.  If the PPP wants him to have a big role in the State, why not make him the Public Service Minister, which is more aligned to his skill sets?

As Moses Nagamootoo and I alluded to in an Alliance for Change (AFC) column on June 16th, 2013, ‘Economic Security for sugar workers is imperative’ and recommended many strategic options that will take place under an AFC Government (http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com /2013/06/16/economic-security-for-sugar-workers-is-imperative/), these ideas are not new to the industry; they have been suggested many years before by others, but all of it fell on deaf PPP ears.  Even the newly minted PPP backer, Mr. Peter Ramsaroop made some strong recommendations over a decade ago on ethanol, but no one listened to him.  One hopes he will have better luck now in his new role in the PPP.

However, being aware of the post-Jagan PPP’s DNA that is grounded in a determination to dominate even when in a minority position, no one will be surprised if Mr. Raj Singh turns up as Executive Chairman/CEO.  The sugar workers will have to make some decisions, stand strong together and stop these bullies before they completely destroy the sugar industry.  Sugar workers must resist these post-Jagan PPP impositions with passive resistance (satyagraha) as Gandhi did to the British Empire.  We all must join the sugar workers in resisting this tyranny on the sugar estates through mass civil disobedience firmly anchored in ahimsa (non-violence).  This will finally lead to freedom from these acts of mental slavery and economic marginalization of sugar workers.

Until the workers have some input into choosing their leaders and contributing to policies, sugar will remain in crisis.

Would the workers want a New Jersey Human Resource Manager to be their CEO especially in light of the fact that Mr. Raj Singh’s salary is “expected to be not more than G$2.5 million per month”, assuming the Minister of Finance is not gaffing again?  Comparing that package to the salaries of the other top managers in the industry who are called upon every day to do the real work and you immediately get a sense that this job was not created to seek out appropriate skills but to reward one of the ACG boys (PPP overseas chapter).  Such an industrial relations condition breeds disharmony that will take decades to repair. But does anyone in the post-Jagan PPP care? Once the PPP boys are taken care of, the welfare of the cane cutters and the factory hands remain unimportant to the post-Jagan PPP cabal.

If Mr. Raj Singh is so desperate to work at Guysuco and prove himself on the Board, he has none other than Mr. Vikram Pandit to follow as an appropriate precedent. When I was at CitiGroup, we all honoured and respected Mr. Vikram Pandit at a time when America was in crisis. His first commitment to the Team was “before I rationalize the jobs of any member of staff, I must rationalize myself first”.   He made a solemn promise to the team that until the Bank returns to profitability, he shall take a salary of US$1 a month with zero bonus.  So said; so done!

After that many persons burnt the midnight oil not only to preserve one’s career but with the pride that we are part of Mr. Pandit’s army marching towards turning around the Bank.  He led and the rest is history – the Bank became profitable and Mr. Pandit was handsomely rewarded for his successes.

A good turnaround strategy dictates that the status quo must change and as a prerequisite, new and vibrant management must be injected swiftly and decisively to negate any spillover effect from the past Board.

Do we think the Ramotar administration has gotten it by now?

History will reveal itself in due time.

Rise up oh fighting men in the fields and the factories and defend what is yours; your sugar industry!

Yours faithfully,
 Sasenarine Singh

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