…deems performance “miserable”By Shemuel FanfairThe Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) has categorically spoken out against the tenure of outgoing Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo), Errol Hanoman whose upcoming departure was recently disclosed to State media by the Corporation’s Chairman,Outgoing GuySuCo CEO, Errol HanomanProfessor Clive Thomas.It was indicated that Hanoman will leave his post by the end of this year when his contract with the Corporation expires. Professor Thomas was quoted as saying that the departure had nothing to do with the hundreds of workers recently receiving letters of redundancy.However, the workers’ main representative body, GAWU, maintained that Hanoman should take responsibility for much of the industry’s prevailing issues.“His performance was miserable, he should have gone a long time, it’s overdue,” GAWU President Seepaul Narine briefly expressed in an invited comment on Thursday.Hanoman resigned from the GuySuCo CEO position under the former People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government in 2010, after just one year serving in the post. It was reported that on that occasion, he cited personal reasons for departure. Nevertheless, industry veteran and GAWU President Komal Chand shared similar sentiments as Narine, telling Guyana Times on Thursday that theGAWU President Komal Chandoutgoing CEO has led the industry on a downward path, whereby production of sugar had slumped to the lowest level in over 20 years.“He inherited a production of 231,000 tonnes of sugar that was planted [under] the past regime in 2014 and that sugar was reaped in 2015; and since then, the industry has gone on a tail spin. He received $32 billion in two-and-a-half years and he could hardly produce 150,000 tonnes of sugar,” the GAWU President strongly expressed.In 2015, production reached 200,000 tonnes but at the end of December last year, it was announced that 2016’s numbers (183,652 tonnes) was the lowest production since 1990 when 129,920 tonnes of sugar production was recorded. The 183,652 tonnes for 2016 was well below the set target of 242,000 tonnes, which was affected by El Niño earlier in that year.Chand told this publication on Thursday that this reduction in production coupled with other factors, has caused the industry’s decline which has been long been described as operating under a cash-strapped status.“He is answerable for the decline in production and for all the decisions that led to the alienation of the workers. He has deprived them of their benefits. He has demotivated the workforce and he has done a lot of wrongs that he put together,” Chand claimed.The sugar industry veteran further highlighted the conflicts that have ensued between Special Purposes Unit (SPU) and GuySuCo over the firing of workers. Chand said Hanoman should have never been allowed to return to his post after his past resignation.“Hanoman is isolated and his exit has now become a reality. He shouldn’t have come back in the first place since he was sent away by the last Government in that post. It dawned on him that he’s isolated. Everybody who worked with him and now the Special Purposes Unit is now having serious conflict with him. He cannot account for his stewardship,” expressed the GAWU President.Speaking on the steps Government should take to salvage the industry, Chand indicated that dismissed workers could be rehired so that they could properly provide for themselves and families.“We hope that these workers will be quickly rehired because they are facing very difficult times [with regards to] putting their children in school and to live. We hope that the thousands of workers who got their letters of dismissal would be quickly rehired so that there could be some satisfaction for them and their families,” urged Chand.In May 2017, Government announced plans to close the Enmore and Rose Hall Sugar Estates, sell the Skeldon Sugar Factory, reduce the annual production of sugar, and take on the responsibility of managing the drainage and irrigation services offered by GuySuCo. Despite these moves, Minister of State Joseph Harmon told a post-Cabinet press briefing that the closure of the Rose Hall estate will be pushed back to 2018. Harmon had said that closure of the Rose Hall Estate in East Canje, Berbice will occur sometime next year. With regard to the Skeldon and Enmore Estates, he said the SPU will have to conduct evaluations, surveys and inventory assessments before any steps are taken to actually sell. However, the redundancy of workers was fast-tracked in the last few weeks.Nearly 2000 Skeldon workers received redundancy letters and around 1500 Enmore workers were similarly let go. The Wales Estate was closed in December 2016 but in that case, the workers were certain of the impending closure since January of that year.