Representatives of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) are set to make a field visit to the Guyana Sugar Corporation after the dismissal of 15 cane harvesters last weekend resulted in strike action at the East Demerara sugar estate this week.
Last weekend, workers were dismissed because of the “inadequate application of fertilizer”. A statement by GuySuCo said that “management, in a routine inspection, discovered that many cane plants were devoid of fertilizer, and as a consequence a thorough examination was done only to expose that there (was) massive skipping in the application of the fertilizer.”
In a statement the corporation noted that the corporation’s audit team was “deployed to make an assessment of the extent of fertilizer not being applied to the cane plants. It was revealed that there (was) massive skipping”. Just over half of the 226 CWT of fertilizer was utilized on the specified 20.3 hectares with the rest being unaccounted for, GuySuCo said.
Annually, GuySuCo spends $2 billion to import fertilizer, according to the statement by the corporation.
GAWU Head Komal Chand told Stabroek News yesterday that the incident resulting in the dismissal of the workers would have occurred since July of last year. Worker representatives had asked the union to seek permission from GuySuCo to inspect the fields in question. Chand said that discussions are ongoing and that the meeting between the union and the state-owned corporation on Wednesday morning went well.
Questions have been raised as to why GuySuCo dismissed workers so long after the initial incident and whether the workers were negligent or were just following the orders of their immediate superiors.
The sugar corporation’s field performance has been poor in recent crops and concerns had been raised over whether sufficient fertilizer was being applied. In the last crop, GuySuCo was also accused by GAWU and the other union in the industry, NAACIE of harvesting young canes just to meet the modest annual target.
To date, GuySuCo has not publicly announced either the first crop target or the annual production target.