Any possibility of a pay increase for sugar workers, who have not seen an increase since the current Government came into office, must be dealt with the board of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCO), Minister of Finance Winston Jordan said Wednesday morning.
“The sugar workers come under a Corporation that has a board and they will have to deal with the realities of the Corporation,” Jordan told reporters at the Marriott Hotel in Georgetown.
The union which represents workers, GAWU, has pointed out that the Board is appointed by the Government and, therefore, as a creature of the Administration, it will be guided, obviously, by the instructions and guidance of the Government.
“Rather than seeking to right the wrong and to bring justice to the sugar workers they have found a scapegoat in the GuySuCo Board which they had a hand in appointing.
“It’s an unconvincing excuse coming from two senior political officials in the Administration,” Seepaul Narine, General Secretary of the GAWU stated in a letter to the press recently.
But Jordan defended the government’s position.
“It (GuySuCo) has to commercially run and profitably engaged,” Jordan stated.
Narine argued that while the government’s excuse is that the Board of GuySuCo has to deal with the matter, other State boards “must swallow hook, line and sinker” what the government is giving and can’t determine their own increases though they can afford more.
“Why two different yardsticks we wonder?” Narine questioned.
“Moreover, we do not believe that the Government, if it is really concerned about the plight of sugar workers who are their employees, would not engage the Board and other GuySuCo officials in finding a way to provide the workers with a pay rise.
“The apparent fact that this hasn’t been done only confirms further that the Government really doesn’t care about sugar workers and their valid and varied troubles,” Narine stated.
Since it came into power, the APNU+AFC Government has shut down four estates, sending home thousands of workers; it has been seeking investors for the four estates that were closed, but Jordan said the current political situation, with the Government being in caretaker mode, has slowed that process.
He said some investors are weary concluding deals now because of threats that these could be re-examined or taken away if the government changes.
“But in any case, we [the Government] had committed not to sign any major deal in this environment; so in the meantime, we are marking time,” he stated.
“Hopefully, by the time election is over, and everything goes back to normal, that the investors will still be there to proceed with the transaction.”