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The Vice President settled the wage dispute at Guysuco with $200M to end wildcat strikes (Report of April 24). But wage increase is only a tip of the challenges at Guysuco. A much bigger problem is management of the company and a lot of questions are being asked about the CEO Sase Singh. When Jagdeo met with the union in his very usual style of portraying to be the fixer in chief and magically found monies that Sase said was not there, somebody had to be lying. It appears that CEO at LBI was dancing out of tune with the power at Freedom House.
Guysuco needs experienced, skilled CEO/manager, not a novice. The company will not see a turnaround without skilled management and someone who enjoys confidence of staff and sugar workers. It will continue to bleed money without change in leadership.
Guysuco needs a highly qualified, competent, visionary manager. There are a few who worked for decades at Guysuco but were never given an opportunity to show their leadership skills and expertise. One that comes to mind is Vishnu Panday who has served the company faithfully for over three decades. More recently, Panday was GAWU representative on the Guysuco board during the coalition regime (2015 to 2020). He also was in charge of Skeldon for three months resigning because of run ins with Sase Singh. Panday or Dr Nanda Gopaul or Paul Bhim or some other skilled technocrat would have been ideal to run the company. Instead, the PPP government by-passed them in choosing Sase who has no known experience in management of a large company or in producing sugar. Panday has had decades of experience running big companies in addition to being loyal to sugar workers.
In choosing Sase, government has been ungrateful to Panday and other competent staff to say the least. Government seems to have forgotten the political and management history of Sase. Thunderbolt flour comes to mind. After he was removed from the flour mill by Jagdeo, he led an opposition to the PPP campaigning against the party in 2011 and 2015 and proudly supported Granger. Jagdeo gave him a call name that is well known. He lambasted Jagdeo and Ramotar in the media and on the campaign trail. He was not hired by the coalition. If Sase were given a position by Granger, would he have opposed the coalition in 2020?
Who is supporting this decision that put Sase to head Guysuco, a man whose history of employment is full of questions and characterization of sorts? The government needs to be put on notice that the relevance of this action cannot overshadow the cost of impending fall out. Let me take you back to the time when a previous CEO was rampant in his house cleaning. Is it some 33 staff that has been relieved? The fall out from Sase’s termination of several individuals is grossly underestimated. Those who do not see the relationship and the influence of these former staff are burying their heads in the sand.
There were other issues raised by GAWU head Seepaul Narine that has not engaged the attention of VP as yet. One is the employment of persons and creation of new positions without the approval of the board. Members of the board complain that business is conducted without approval. Salaries are awarded to new comers (those operating from the secretariat) outside of the pay grade and scale and without any job evaluation of the new positions. Meanwhile, sugar workers could not get a raise until the VP intervened.
Like Guyoil, the complaints at Guysuco should attract an investigation of sorts since this government has been accused of having no respect for governance and rule of law and seems to wildly living up to its own standards. The line Minister and government should heed the board’s signal by ordering an immediate investigation into the operation of Guysuco.