Several issues are currently affecting the production of sugar at the few estates and factories that are operating, resulting in the second crop’s production target being far behind expectations.This is according the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), who, in a press release on Friday, stated that the second crop is already in its seventh week of the 18-week schedule and “very much behind the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) production schedule”.GAWU— along with another union, the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) — recently held a meeting with the GuySuCo after the alarmingly low rates of sugar production came to their attention.According to the Union on Friday, the Corporation’s aggregate second crop production reached 21,869 tonnes of sugar but should have reached some 33,892 tonnes in keeping with the schedule set out by GuySuCo.It noted that GuySuCo, at that time, was in a deficit of 12,023 tonnes or was nearly 35 per cent below its anticipated production. At Albion Estate, the GAWU said that it learnt that since the commencement of the crop, the factory has been plagued by several breakdowns.Information reached the Union indicates that nearly a week of operations, so far, has been lost to various maladies that brought the factory’s operations to a halt.GAWU noted that the hindrances occurred at various sections and were not limited to one area at that sugar estate; meanwhile, at the Blairmont sugar estate, the factory has defective components which are contributing to sugar losses there.“At Albion, a breakdown resulted after one of the wire ropes that hoists cane into the factory burst, this issue, we heard, was drawn to the management’s attention by the workers. Astoundingly, if our information is indeed correct, senior personnel of the estate told the workers to leave the rope as it were and they would deal with the consequences later. At Blairmont, the workers, through their shop stewards, have raised their concern with the management, which apparently is hamstrung from really alleviating the issue,” GAWU said on Friday.Additionally, at the Blairmont sugar estate, the GAWU stated that workers have expressed concern about the quality of canes available for harvesting as they pointed out that cane yields were below estimates.“This, they lamented, is one of the chief reasons for the lagging production at the estate. At Uitvlugt, while the estate, over the last two weeks, has managed to surpass its weekly production target, it still continues to experience difficulties with the factory. For the last few crops, the Uitvlugt factory has been plagued by several problems”.The Workers Union is contending that when it will confront the GuySuCo with the situation, it will “almost instinctively point out that its capital programme has been hamstrung by lack of finances”.However, it was noted that the Corporation would have received a $30 billion bond and, therefore, funds should have been or should be utilised from this source to safeguard sugar production in Guyana and the jobs of the remaining thousands of sugar workers.“We understand that notwithstanding public pronouncements that the apparent rift between NICIL-SPU and GuySuCo was being healed, the reality is that the chasms persist. In fact, GuySuCo disclosed that its punt rehabilitation programme is being held up as NICIL-SPU is refusing to release funds to purchase the steel required. It seems that the sugar industry is being conveniently, or maybe willfully, ignored by the powers-that-be”.The Union further pointed out that on June 8, the Guyana Chronicle reported that the President told those gathered that this Government was working to ensure“…that the $30 billion syndicated bond… is transferred to GuySuCo within a short space of time so that urgent needs can be met”.But the GAWU is arguing that on this matter, it appears there is no plan regarding the utilisation of the monies, though there is reference to “a so-called plan by GuySuCo and Government officials”.According to the sugar workers’ Union, although President Granger told the audience at Albion in June 2019 “…a stronger, smarter, sustainable and more profitable sugar industry is built and workers’ jobs are safeguarded,” that statement lacked any substance from the Head of State.According to GAWU, there is now, with urgent need, a necessity to arrest the situation.“The sugar industry has all the tools to succeed. Of course, we hasten to point out that the industry’s turnaround cannot be delinked from a motivated workforce, which in this day and age, is working for rates-of-pay last adjusted in 2014, we need not to allow the specter that haunts Skeldon, Rose Hall, East Demerara and Wales spread to other villages and people,” the statement from GAWU added.