GAWU was one of the main culprits in running down the sugar industry

Dear Editor,

GAWU believes that by continuously repeating its empty rhetoric it will be able to convince the public, especially its members, that it is truly concerned about their welfare. But the old adage, ‘action speaks louder than words’ keeps on being manifested all the time as it continues its crusade of insensitivity to the realities of the sugar industry.

On September 12th, 2017, the crop began at Skeldon after a hiatus of more than 9 months, yet as soon as it was about to begin, GAWU called a strike to protest the privatization of the entity. The union waited until the cane was burnt and harvesting was about to begin then it called a strike. But this is nothing new for GAWU. This modus operandi is as old as GAWU itself. It is always about crippling the industry and never about finding sensible and workable solutions. It knows that the canes will lose their sucrose content before they are even harvested, and the TC/TS will be very high and that GuySuCo will lose millions. But what about the workers whom they claim to represent? These poor guys have already spent months trying to eke out a living, doing odd jobs and borrowing from sympathetic friends and relatives.

Statistics have shown that over the years, even during the PPP/C tenure in office, GAWU was one of the main culprits in running down the sugar industry. During this time there was an average of 200 strikes per year at various estates which resulted in the loss of an average of 42,500 man days per annum. This will translate into more than $21 million per annum in wages.  During the PPP/C period in office workers would have lost in excess $483 million. What financial loss did the GAWU leaders bear? Not a single black cent. It is always the workers who lose big time. These strikes were called for the ficklest of reasons.

I wish to remind GAWU that the annual output of sugar declined by 14% between 2006 and 2016. The subsidies to the industry increased from $700 million in 2011 to $11.8 billion in 2015 whilst the losses increased from $2.3 billion in 2009 to $17.4 billion in 2014, an increase of 43%. On the other hand, unrelenting demands from GAWU increased the wages bill from $14.5 billion in 2010 to $20.8 billion in 2014. Can we attribute this massive increase to the salaries of the CEO and the Chairman of GuySuCo?  Let me summarize this for the Secretary of GAWU, Mr Seepaul Narine: output fell drastically; subsidies increased dramatically; losses increased by leaps and bounds; whilst wages increased astronomically.  Mr Narine needs to be real in his assessment.

I wish that Mr Narine or his apologists would stick to the contents of my letter, and I wish to advise them to stop confusing privatization and diversification with closure. Workers will not lose jobs in the privatization process since the labour turnout is just above 50%. It is not doom and gloom for sugar workers as is being peddled by GAWU and some so-called politicians.

Yours faithfully,

Gobin Harbhajan

Regional Democratic Councillor


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