GuySuCo yesterday blocked the launch of a sports bar at its corporate headquarters at La Bonne Intention (LBI) in the sharpest confrontation yet with the unit set up by the government to divest sugar assets.
The transformation of GuySuCo’s staff club into a sports bar by the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) set up by the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL) does not line up with the sugar company’s principles and values, the company’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Audreyanna Thomas told Stabroek News yesterday.
Since the APNU+AFC government moved to shut down sugar estates and divest others, there has been tension between GuySuCo and the Head of the SPU, Colvin Heath- London.
Yesterday afternoon, the SPU had planned on officially launching the new “Estate Lounge,” where the old Estate’s Staff Club was previously located.
Speaking to the media yesterday at LBI, Thomas explained that while the SPU had sent out invitations for the official launch of the Sports Bar, GuySuCo issued notices cancelling the event.
“It’s a fight that we are in, it’s a battle and it’s really unnecessary. It’s also a departure from GuySuCo’s values and principles because it was a staff club. It’s a corporate compound and you shouldn’t have a sports bar. It has always been a staff club,” Thomas explained, while noting that persons are trying to push their own agenda.
Thomas stated that they didn’t find out what the SPU was planning until earlier in the week. She said that originally GuySuCo had planned to rehabilitate the staff club but had received communication from the SPU that it wanted to use the facility for its staff as well.
Thomas said it was always the sugar company’s intention to have the facility rehabilitated for the staff but it was surprised to learn that it was being turned into a sports bar that would be opened to the public.
“This is a departure from being a corporate environment and it is something that is being forced on us. In addition to that, we haven’t paid salaries to the staff as yet. This is not our priority. We are not getting money to do our capital investments but we are having the launch of a sports bar. We are saying that these are not our priorities,” Thomas argued.
This was a reference to GuySuCo’s concerns that it still to receive significant sums from the $30 billion bond contracted by the SPU for the sugar industry.
She also noted that while the former CEO of GuySuCo would’ve stated his intention of having the staff club become self-sufficient, the SPU might have misinterpreted it to mean a commercial entity.
“The SPU’s focus is supposed to be divesting their estates – Rose Hall, Skeldon, Wales and Enmore. However, for some reason, they have rehabilitated the staff club even though we would have informed them that it should not happen and yet they are going ahead with it,” Thomas added.
She also argued that the move contradicts the company’s plan of developing a corporate alcohol and substance abuse policy and a strategy and implementation plan.
“For them it’s a non-issue but for GuySuCo it’s different,” she added, while stating that staff who are found drinking on the job would often be punished by suspension.
When Stabroek News visited the bar yesterday, some patrons were already supporting the facility.