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Guyana defends decision to close down sugar factory

Monday, February 8, 2016

GEORGETOWN—The Guyana government Friday dismissed suggestions that all the workers at two financially strapped sugar estates would be made redundant accusing the Guyana Agriculture Workers Union (GAWU) of deliberately misleading the workers on the issue.

The Ministry of Agriculture in a statement said the union ever since the announcement was made to shut down the loss-making factories had “been misrepresenting the situation stating that all workers will be severed”.

But it said that the Wales Factory will only be closed at the end of the second crop 2016 after both farmers and the estate canes have been harvested and processed by the factory and that “a significant number of workers from Wales will be absorbed at the Uitvlugt estate”.

It said that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) owned cultivation at Wales will be prepared for a diversification programme as the canes are harvested in 2016 and that the actions of the union are “aimed at misrepresenting the situation to create doubts in the minds of the workers about information which does not exist.

“The parlous state of the sugar industry is common knowledge and the Wales estate is projected to make a further loss of $1.9 billion (One Guyana dollar =US$0.004 cents) in 2016,” the Ministry of Agriculture said, adding “the Guyana Sugar Corporation is making every effort possible to ensure that workers remain in employment.

“In this regard, meetings have been held and will continue over the next two months to try to persuade those workers who have opted for severance to remain on the job.”

It said that so far, 13 people who may become redundant are tillage tractor operators and that GUYSUCO is exploring the possibility of procuring six additional tillage tractors and if successful, these operators can be gainfully employed at Uitvlugt in tillage operations and would therefore assist in accelerating the rehabilitation of that estate’s cultivation.

“There will be several categories of workers remaining at Wales at the end of 2016. Amongst those categories, there will be cane harvesters who will be offered employment at Uitvlugt.

“Those who are approaching pensionable age will be offered early retirement. If possible, others will be absorbed at Uitvlugt where suitable vacancies exists, whist the remainder will be required for new economic ventures in the Wales cultivation,” the ministry said, adding that all clerical staff will remain at Wales for 2016.