Union not consulted on diversification plans for Wales – Chand

first_imgThe financial challenges of the sugar sector resulted in the recent declaration by the Finance Minister that the industry was “not as sweet” as before. As such, the call for diversification of Estates has been made to assist in the sustenance of the ailing industry.However, there has been a lack of consultations with some of the requisite stakeholders on the part of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo).This is according to President of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), Komal Chand, who, in an interview with Guyana Times, on Tuesday, said that GuySuCo has not engaged the Union in discussions on the plans to diversify the industry.“The Union was not told by GuySuCo about the nature of the ventures; we were told in January that they would reach us back to inform us about that,” Chand said.The GAWU President noted that previous attempts at diversification were unsuccessful.GAWU President Komal Chand“GuySuCo went into dairy, aquaculture in the 70s, [but] they all failed and were abandoned and the employment of workers and persons in those ventures [were] very minimal,” Chand expressed.These sentiments were echoed by Finance Minister Winston Jordan who on Monday noted that any attempt at diversification has to be realistic.“Diversification of sugar was attempted in the 1970s, but we have to do more than attempt, we have to be realistic,” the Finance Minister pointed out.Government, through the Government Information Agency (GINA), announced on Wednesday last that the Wales Sugar Estate would be converted into a factory that would process dairy products and fruit juices among other products. Agriculture Minister Noel Holder had pointed out that the reorganisation of Wales would “create opportunities for local farmers”, and noted that since the lands will no longer be used for sugar cane cultivation, it will be allocated for cattle rearing, and cultivation of a myriad of crops to sustain the operations of the juice plant.“We can see the land being used for dairy production, and we can see some land being made available to people in the area so that they could farm and provide milk, provide fruit juices, provide things of that nature, and we would want to see that replicated in other estates,” Holder told GINA.He further noted that the decision presented an opportunity to convert the Estate into a model for others in terms of the sugar industry’s diversification.Earlier this year, the Government pointed out that finances were “simply not available” to divert funds from the other Estates to keep Wales afloat as this would “seriously jeopardise” the future of the other estates. As such, the Administration had maintained that the decision to close the Wales Estate was final.In January, Government confirmed that the Wales Estate would cease sugar operations by the end of this year.last_img

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