The “Good Book” promises they who “sow wind, will reap the whirlwind”. Or in other words, if you don’t do what’s necessary it’ll come back to bite you on your tush. And to a large extent this is what’s happened at GuySuCo. When “Bookers” was the synecdoche for the entire sugar industry, leaders like Jagan rightfully cussed them out for “exploiting” the workers.
Nothing wrong with that. But how come when we kicked them out, the industry collapsed under the PNC and then again under the PPP – leaving the workers even more “exploited” than ever? Right now with Wales about to be shuttered, what could be more “explorative” that the Hobson’s choice offered by GuySuCo to 1800 workers of “accepting” work at Uitvlugt or taking retrenchment. To work at Uitvlugt would leave them even worse off than taking retrenchment.
There are any number of reasons proffered for the collapse of GuySuCo – ranging from over-expansion to over-high wages. But one reason that’s gone unmentioned has been the abandonment by the corporation of Bookers’ programme of human development that was able to produce more sugar than its successor “native” managers have ever been able to achieve.
One would’ve thought in an industry where labour costs were always over 60 per cent of all costs, it would be a no-brainier to accept the management of that labour couldn’t be left to chance. If pan-boilers had to be trained – then so also should be “overseers”. In the olden days, raw recruits from Scotland and Ireland would be brought in and handed over to the more experienced locals.
But as Bookers saw the writing on the wall, they introduced several explicit training programmes starting in the 1950’s, for managers and workers to ensure the continuation of high productivity. For the factories there was the Port Morant Apprenticeship Training a School, which produced individuals to fill every technical job – all the way up to Factory Managers. In the USA and Canada, hundreds of these graduates are running the most sophisticated operations. But not in Guyana.
There was the Booker Cadet Programme. Talented individuals were identified and sent abroad to be trained in relevant universities and internship programmes. When they returned they also brought back the best practices they picked up abroad. There was also a residential training programme first at Timehri which was then transferred to the “Big Manager House” at Ogle. This building is now being considered for training Public Servants.
But the abandonment of all these training programmes is one of the reasons why there’s really no alternative than getting out of sugar IN A PHASED MANNER now.
Why did this come to pass?
For quite a while, there’s been stinging criticism of the loosening moral tethers of our society lumped under the rubric “the permissive society”. One thinker summed up the critique back in 1985:
“Bad art was as good as good art. Grammar and spelling were no longer important. To be clean was no better than to be filthy. Good manners were no better than bad. Family life was derided as an outdated bourgeois concept. Criminals deserved as much sympathy as their victims. Many homes and classrooms became disorderly – if there was neither right nor wrong there could be no basis for punishment or reward. Violence and soft pornography became accepted in the media. Thus was sown the wind; and we are now reaping the whirlwind.”
Notice the example: “criminals deserved as much sympathy as their victims”. This is very relevant at this time as the CoI into the Prison Riots “do their thing”.
This Eyewitness believes all human lives are important – including those of victims. So are going to compensate the relatives of the murdered victims?
The government was all hot and sweaty when they launched dozens of audits of government departments. They promised mass hangings as their frenzied supporters bayed for blood.
With nary a thing done to date, they’re now baying for Ministers’ blood!