The Guyana Sugar Corporation has this morning written to the GAWU informing the Union of its agreement to commence discussion on the Annual Production Incentive for 2015 on Wednesday 18 November.
It was always the intention of The Corporation to meet and address the API for the current year. GuySuCo however deplores the tendency of the Union to issue threats, both overt and implied, through the media in its attempt to pressure the Corporation along a particular course of action. The message to GAWU is clear- GuySuCo is inured to such threats, they will not influence decisions to be made in the best interest of our employees and the industry. The sooner the Union recognizes this, the healthier would be the relationship between GuySuCo and the Union, the better would our workers’ long term interests be served by the Union.
Referring to Mr Komal Chand’s interview with the Stabroek News on Monday 9th November, the Corporation wishes to address a number of points contained therein:
- The Union will be requesting that GuySuCo agree to API discussions in lieu of the Corporation’s “refusal to enter into discussions on wages”.
The API is a totally different matter from wages and salaries. Discussion of the former cannot be in lieu of the latter. The Corporation has never refused to enter into discussions on wages. It’s position has always been that these negotiations would commence after a decision is taken on the way forward for the industry after consideration of the COI report. This position will not change.
- Mr Chand seemed to have commenced the API discussions through the media with his expectation compared to last year. This approach is fraught with problems.
- The GAWU president then alluded that GuySuCo may wish to breach the law with the API and then proceeded with an implied threat of protest action.
There is no law governing API and we strongly deplore this attitude. It jumps to conclusions, misrepresents the Corporation and seeks to incite the emotions of the readers.
- The GAWU leader persists with his accusation that the Corporation has broken yet another law by refusing to accede to collective bargaining and adherence to the Trade Union Recognition Act (TURA).
The Corporation has not breached any part of the TURA. It has met with the Union informally, formally, exchanged correspondence with GAWU and reiterated its position ad nauseum.
- Mr Chand accused the Corporation of impeding production. He said that on Saturday GuySuCo was not prepared for workers at various estates and as a result they showed up with little work to do.
Mr Chand failed to tell Stabroek News that on 4th November, a letter was sent to GuySuCo by Attorneys, who wrote on behalf of the GAWU, NAACIE and GLU, and to quote from the last paragraph of the said letter:
“We expect a prompt reply from you; but feel free to communicate the dates of the beginnings of the negotiations directly to our clients if you so desire. Kindly note that if due negotiations are not proceeded with further industrial action will follow sans notice”
Given Guysuco’s often stated position that negotiations would not commence until a road map for the industry is agreed, the Corporation interpreted the letter from the Unions’ attorneys as 72 hours notice of impending strike action and put in place arrangements to minimise losses in the event of protest action. The attorneys’ letter would have been the Unions’ comeback regarding the requirement to give 72 hours notice of any intention to strike. This notice was not given prior to the 3 days strike when Guysuco lost at least $38 million in sugar due to staling from canes burnt and left standing, left on the ground and in punts, and further inversion losses in juice in the process house over the period of the strike-all because the Corporation was not given the prescribed notice by GAWU of its intention to strike.
Guysuco is not prepared to experience such losses again if it can avoid it. Hence when word was received that there was not going to be a strike on Sunday, the Corporation had to commence the process of recommencing operations by first burning canes.
- We note Mr Chand’s implied threat to the beginning of the 2016 crop. We hope good sense would prevail and we would see instead, the very good performance of both our workers and the management team experienced during the current crop, flowing into 2016.
- Finally, it is the Corporation’s sincere wish that Mr Chand and the Sugar Unions would recognize the establishment and work of the Commission of Inquiry into the sugar industry for what it is- a major initiative to save the Guyana Sugar Industry from dying, to provide security of employment for its 17,000 employees. For under its present cost/price structure it would surely die, as surely as night follows day. This life saving process must take precedence over all else. Why is it so difficult to understand and accept? All our efforts, the energies of all stakeholders, should be focused on developing a robust road map for the future of the industry. We need to sit around the table and work together for the common good of the employees and the Nation.
Guyana Sugar Corporation Inc.
11th November, 2015