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|Speedy resolution imperative for current sugar strike|
|Wednesday, 25 July 2012 20:31|
THE second sugar crop for this year is off to a bad start, as already a strike has
erupted at Albion Estate which is one of the major sugar producers within the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).
The first crop was also an unsuccessful one with a shortfall in production of some 30,000 tonnes and if this trend continues, then the target for this crop is not likely to be met.
If this happens then the industry, workers and the national economy would be hurt. It would be a no-win situation.
According GuySuCo’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Paul Bhim, its commitment to the EU would not likely be met due to the industrial unrest and would see the entity incurring an additional cost at US$6000 per day, which will have to be paid in the interim for the delay.
“These actions by the workers will only push the corporation backwards…we have a huge crop to take out and it is necessary to have the crop taken out…I would like to appeal to the workers to think the situation over as the country currently has important commitments to fulfil,” the CEO said.
The major union in the sugar industry, GAWU, said while the situation remains an alarming one, it anticipates that a decision will be met that will be favourable to both parties. The union’s representatives and GuySuCo’s management have met with the workers in order to come to a compromise and should have met with them again yesterday.
In the meantime, it has been over 10 days since the canes have been burnt, and if a decision is not made shortly, over 162 punts of canes (approximately 962 tonnes) could be lost as a result of the industrial unrest.
The actions of workers have, over the years, hampered the production of the corporation. This has resulted in shortfalls in projected production targets for the crops. GuySuCo’s projection target for the second crop is 167,000 tonnes; and to date, only 5,500 tonnes have been produced, even as La Nina season creeps up.
Indeed, this is a very alarming situation and it cannot be allowed to get worse bearing in mind that extreme rainy periods have been compounded by the strike action which have been consistently hurting the sugar corporation.
As such, GuySuCo’s management is calling on the workers to be rational in their demands.
GUYSUCO has over the years successfully maintained its international market obligations, and at present, there is a European Union (EU) vessel docked in Georgetown which is expected to sail on Friday, with approximately 6,500 tonnes of sugar.
In such an alarming situation there must be no waste of time and effort to ensure a swift resolution to the problem. In order to arrive at such a resolution, there has to be reasonableness and a spirit of compromise from GuySuCo and GAWU/workers.
However, the frequency and spontaneity of strikes in the sugar industry in recent years are a major concern and therefore GuySuCo and GAWU perhaps need to review the issue of industrial relations with a view to revamping it to reduce the probability of strikes, perhaps through a restructured mechanism to deal with grievances of workers.
On the other hand, it would be fair to say that under normal circumstances workers will not want to withhold their labour without a genuine cause, because it is they and their families who will endure financial hardship when they engage in strike action.
Of course, there are instances when there can be a political motive and, in such a situation, workers and their unions would manufacture issues to use as their launching pad for strike action such as what took place in the 1960s when foreign powers, in collaboration with the local lackeys, attempted to remove the Dr Cheddi Jagan led government.
In those days, workers were actually paid to strike through funding from the CIA and the AFL-CIO.
However, despite the fact that some political forces have been attempting to ‘manipulate’ sugar workers, particularly in Berbice, it would be unreasonable to assume that the current strikes in the sugar industry have a political agenda and they should be treated as purely industrial matters.
Any disruption in the sugar industry will not only harm the industry but the national economy as well.
Therefore, it is crucial that all stakeholders look at the bigger picture and commit themselves to a speedy resolution.
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 25 July 2012 21:02|
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