Dear Editor,

The GAWU, through a usually reliable source, has learnt that Uitvlugt Estate during 2018 expended well over a million dollars on meals provided to visitors to the estate. Those visitors, we understand, are mainly personnel from the Corporation’s Head Office. It, therefore, would mean that over 1,000 meals would have been prepared last year, assuming that a meal costs $1,000. If that is the case, it would mean that the estate had about three visitors every day of the year. This is incredible and incredulous at the same time.

If the information that has reached the Union’s hands is indeed accurate then it is cause for a great concern regarding the administration of the industry’s finances. At this time, as the workers well know, the Corporation has relied on the excuse of lack of finance to deny, over and over justifiable requests for improvements in working conditions and benefits.

GAWU, on several occasions, has expressed concern about the management of the industry’s finances. Previously, we pointed to the hefty sums going to what the Corporation deems its Key Managerial Personnel. On this matter, we noted, from the most recently available data, that sums going to this group of the state-owned enterprise’s top-echelon almost doubled between 2015 and 2016. We know too that the industry invested $61M into its seed paddy project at Wales but realized only $9M in income, in other words it realized a loss of $52M. It also came to our attention that the Corporation spent nearly $58M on a feasibility study for aquaculture and not one fish was harvested. With such expenditure, seemingly, becoming a feature of the Corporation, it was not surprising, when we saw that the Corporation’s Head Office cost rose from 9 per cent of total costs in 2017 to over 14 per cent of total costs at the end of September, 2018.

This sort of expenditure is coming at the same time that the Corporation is telling the public that it needs investment in the fields and factories. Moreover, we see such expenditures taking place when the industry’s workers, whom the Corporation describes as its most important asset, being denied a pay rise since 2015 and have had several important benefits suspended and ignored.

To say that the Union is disheartened by the most recent revelation is to say the least. Undoubtedly, at this time, when workers are having a most difficult time to make ends meet it is upsetting that such disturbing news is coming to light.

Yours faithfully,

Seepaul Narine

General Secretary

GAWU

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