3,000+ GuySuCo sugar workers to get remaining severance tomorrow

– BILLIONS to be paid out in severance to GuySuCo workers

– Govt will pay the final tranche of severance payment due to the more than 3,000 workers

– Govt keeps promise to pay before the year ends

– “GuySuCo was being bailed out by the previous administration for years. We had to find, in the first six months, $16BILLION just to keep GuySuCo going, paying wages and salaries” – PM Nagamootoo

DPI, Guyana, Thursday, November 29, 2018

More than 3,000 redundant GuySuco workers are set to receive the remainder of their severance payment on Friday.

According to Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo, speaking about the recently tabled $300.7Billion budget, the government will pay the final tranche of severance payments due to the more than 3,000 workers, before the year ends; thereby keeping its promise

The payment follows the government’s approach to the National Assembly’s unanimous approval of almost $2.5Billion to cater for the remaining severance to 4,723 sugar workers, in early November.

In addition, Prime Minister Nagamootoo said that those workers from Wales, previously prevented from receiving severance because of a court action filed by the PPP-aligned General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) are now cleared and will receive their severance package. He also said the government will respect the ruling of the courts and pay interests between four and six per cent on the outstanding amounts.

“Of course, we recognise that there is an order from the court which says we pay interest on the amount due and so we will be paying the interest which comes up to about $85Million. We are not there to deny the sugar workers… we had to be able to ensure that we have the money and not dig a deeper hole,” the Prime Minister explained.

GuySuCo has, for several years, been heavily subsidized by the previous administration. On assuming office, the Coalition government, faced with the challenge of right-sizing the industry, conducted a forensic audit of the bankrupt GuySuCo and decided to close all but three sugar estates.

Earlier this year, sugar workers whose severance packages were $500,000 or less, were paid in full, under a supplementary budgetary provision of $1.931Billion.

A Commission of Inquiry (COI) found all of the corporation’s earnings were being spent on wages and salaries, a situation which could not be sustained by government bailouts.

“When the government came to power in May 2015, it didn’t realise the extent to which GuySuCo was in trouble. GuySuCo was being bailed out by the previous administration for years. We had to find, in the first six months, $16Billion just to keep GuySuCo going, paying wages and salaries,” Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder had explained in January.

The minister also said the findings from the inquiry also revealed that GuySuCo employees were among the highest paid in the country with their wages averaging about $200,000 per month.

“But all the money that GuySuCo is earning, about US$90Billion per year, was not sufficient to pay the wages and salaries, they were short by over $1Billion to meet that requirement,” Minister Holder had explained

Further, he said the decision to restructure GuySuCo stemmed from several factors, including the financial challenges presented by high production costs and low world market prices following the removal of preferential sugar prices to African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries by the European Union (EU).

The government, back in early 2017, had announced that with the rightsizing of the sugar industry, it would keep the estates; Blairmont (on the West Bank Berbice), Albion (Corentyne) and Uitvlugt (on the West Coast of Demerara), opened.

Redundant workers have been and are continuously being re-skilled through the Alternative Livelihood Programme established through the Small Business Bureau and GuySuCo. Others are now employed under various arms of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Kidackie Amsterdam.

Images by Department of Public Information.

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