Downsizing of sugar industry makes provisions for workers

GINA, GUYANA, Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The government has made provisions for workers in the sugar industry, even as it plans to downsize sugar production in the future.

Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder presenting the state paper in the National Assembly

Minister of Agriculture Noel Holder on Monday, presented the State Paper on the future of the sugar industry to the National Assembly.

Minister Holder noted that the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO) is the country’s single largest employer for the “entire history of independent Guyana”. However, there has been a sharp decline in the number of workers employed by the industry over the decade 2006 to 2015, Minister Holder noted.

Additionally, migration of skilled and experienced managers, exhaustion of cash reserves, deteriorating field infrastructure and factories, and an unstable and adversarial industrial relations climate have contributed to the decline.

“Low labour turnout has resulted in the industry suffering significant productivity losses,” Minister Holder noted.

The white paper proposes the actions that will be taken by the government to improve the efficiency of state owned GUYSUCO.  The document proposes the amalgamation of estates and closure of factories with the eventual downsizing of actual sugar produced. The paper also proposes the divestment of the Skeldon estate.

The state paper has proposed the retainment of “as many workers” as needed for all operations on the merged estates and factories. Additionally, employees are to be leased land by GUYSUCO to engage in agricultural production.

“The resources that exist under the green economy and Regional Food Self-Sufficiency drive would support their efforts,” Minister Holder stated.

The government has noted that GUYSUCO’s current business model is not a “formula for improving the income and wealth of sugar workers while seeking to provide the good life for current and future generations.”


By: Tiffny Rhodius