…Estates shutdown loom…Industry set tentative 216,000 tonnes targetMore than 400 senior staffers of the state-owned Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) are claiming discrimination after being told that they are not likely to receive any salary increases that were supposed to have been paid since December.They will also not be paid any 2013 production bonus. The senior staffers are now weighing legal options and have threatened to down tools starting this weekend. The staffers were told the news by their estate managers who had attended an emergency meeting earlier in the day with GuySuCo’s management.Speaking with Kaieteur News yesterday, a number of the staffers complained that normal, unionised workers received their increases since December.“We have been told that we will not be getting any increases. The rest of the workers of GuySuCo have received their increases retroactive to January 1st, 2013. Public servants have also received theirs. What is happening to us? Are we not entitled too?” a spokesperson of the aggrieved workers asked yesterday.With a number of the estates set to start the first crop within weeks, this latest development would spell even more worry for the industry.Already, GuySuCo has set a tentative target of 216,000 tonnes of sugar for 2014, after falling to 187,000 tonnes, way short of its original 240,000 tonnes for last year. That target had been adjusted downwards a number of times to finally 190,000 tonnes after it became clear that it was unrealistic. This was the worst performance for the industry in over two decades.GuySuCo was successful in asking Government for bailout cash in December with the National Assembly approving $4B.As of last December, GuySuCo’s main union, Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), confirmed that the Corporation owed creditors, including suppliers and banks, over $10B. GAWU’s members have been paid increases and have received the first of two tranches of their 2013 annual production incentive.While the Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Leslie Ramsammy has assured that the $10B figure was in no way unusual in light of the volume of business that GuySuCo does, industry experts were worried especially in the context of falling production and the Corporation’s cash position.Penalised seniors?Yesterday,Andy Pettitte Astros Jersey, the senior staffers said that they represent only three per cent of the GuySuCo work force and play a critical function. “We are talking about $70-$80M that GuySuCo will have to pay us. Other staffers- the union workers- have been paid $700M. We are on 24-hours call. Even some junior staffers are working more than us. How can this be fair? Are we being penalized for a failure by the board to address the situation of GuySuCo?”Kaieteur News was unable to speak with Chief Executive Officer,Ron Greschner Rangers Jersey, Paul Bhim, who was in meetings.However, a senior official said that he too is mystified why the senior staffers, who include engineers, shift managers and factory managers,Phil Esposito Bruins Throwback Jersey, were not paid.“We are being told that there is nothing management can do,Zack Kassian Canadiens Jersey, any payments to us will have to be approved by the Board. They are saying that GuySuCo has no monies,” a senior staffer said.GuySuCo’s Board of Directors, headed by Dr. Raj Singh,David Ortiz Red Sox Jersey, has been largely silent on the industry. Also sitting on the board are Keith Burrowes, Dr. Dindyal Permaul, Badri Persaud and Geeta Singh-Knight.Government had expressed worry over the industry which at one time was the largest foreign currency earner for the country but has fallen to third behind gold and rice.The industry has been a major embarrassment for the Administration which seems to have little answers for a 16,000-plus worker strong Corporation, and is considered the country’s biggest employer.In the last few years,Mike Richter Rangers Jersey, Government has been plugging billions to help keep GuySuCo afloat.The woes have been blamed on poor yields; problems at especially the new Skeldon factory and at Enmore; a lessening work force and an accumulative, phased 37% price cuts by Europe, GuySuCo’s biggest sugar customer.The Board has reportedly, with the blessings of Government, hired an Indian firm, Integrated Casetech Consultants (P) Limited, to overlook the operations of the estates, to provide technical help and to improve production. Three of these technical experts, including an electrician, chemist and mechanical technician, are already on the job at Enmore, on the East Coast of Demerara.At the US$200M Chinese-built Skeldon project, Berbice, a few overseas experts, including a Tate and Lyle official, are reportedly still there.More overseas helpAbout a dozen of Casetech experts are set to arrive in the coming weeks, senior staffers confirmed yesterday.The Skeldon factory itself remains a major problem. While it had targeted 43,482 tonnes at the beginning of 2013, actual production at December 21 was a miserly 25,Vladimir Tarasenko Jersey,380 tonnes.The problems at the factory have been known since being commissioned in August 2009, more than four years ago. A key punt dumper, critical to taking the canes from the waterways into the factory’s conveyor systems, has been malfunctioning. So too have other areas in the factory.Several faults have been fixed by the Chinese contractor,http://www.soccerpro.us.com/Switzerland/, but with the defects liability period over, GuySuCo turned to South Africa’s Bosch Engineering this year to help address some of the issues.With more than US$8M ($1.6B) reportedly being spent on Bosch, GuySuCo and union officials have admitted that the remedial works have not gone so well. Workers are now attempting to fix those “repairs”.In December, to reach its 190,000 revised target, GuySuCo harvested a significant quantity of young canes that were earmarked for the first crop this year. Industry experts are now saying that this decision will have significant impact on production this year.A number of Caribbean countries,Miami Marlins Jeff Locke Jersey, following announcements by Europe to cut sugar prices, have pulled out from production altogether.Justin Evans Women

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