The Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) is examining programmes targeted towards redundant employees and communities affected by the downsizing of the sugar industry.
Public Relations Officer of GuySuCo, Audreyanna Thomas, said the corporation has developed an alternative livelihood programme targeted to workers who will be affected by the transition to scaled-down productions.
GuySuCo hosted a press conference today to share its new business model as it transitions into the downsized operations.
The alternative livelihood programme is aimed at securing the employment of workers as estates are being amalgamated and closed. One component is contractual opportunities. “We’re examining those opportunities to determine which of those might be available for our employees to become engaged in and provide us with services,” Thomas explained.
At year-end employees at the East Demerara and Rose Hall estates will become redundant. It is expected that some 1,500 persons will be made redundant by end of crop season. Over at Rose Hall, GuySuCo is examining amalgamating employees at Blairmont and Albion Estates to reduce the number of employees during the downsizing.
Over at the Wales Estate, GuySuCo has already paid severance to 389 persons while 340 cane harvesters and support staff were transferred to Uitvlugt.
“We’re looking at what opportunities are there within the corporation as it relates to these contractual services so that we can make those opportunities available to the employees,” Thomas explained.
GuySuCo will also commence “a massive skills training programme” to reskill redundant employees. Some 500 employees from the Wales and East Demerara Estate have been tapped for this exercise.
Thomas said, currently, 100 have indicated an interest in being retrained in areas such as sewing, cosmetology, caring for the elderly, catering, mechanical and electrical works, small business management among other areas.
“So, the next step would be to provide a comprehensive plan for the employees what they’re interested in, in terms of training,” Thomas said. GuySuCo will be building partnerships with training agencies to achieve these types of instruction.
Additionally, the sugar corporation is working with consultants on transitioning the workers into farmers. This is in accordance with one of the recommendations of the state paper on the future of the sugar industry which is to lease lands to employees for farming.
The corporation is also making provisions for persons who will remain in their employ. “Those who remain with us we will upskill them so that they will be involved in other areas as against specific to the task they do,” Thomas noted.
It is expected that GUYSUCO will have some 10,000 workers in addition to the skeleton staff at the Wales, Rose Hall and Enmore Estates – who are manning the corporation’s pumps and other infrastructure – when it begins operations at the Albion, Blairmont and Uitvlugt Estates.
Meanwhile, GuySuCo is facilitating the implementation of a sustainable community programme to mitigate the setback in communities surrounding the Rose Hall and Enmore Estates which are winding down for closure.
“We’ve already conducted a study within these communities to determine from the residents if you are not doing sugar what else would you want to do, what are the other preferred areas of growth that you would like to do in your area and what sort of skills and training do you need to achieve those growth areas,” Thomas said.