The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is urging Government to help bring an end to the ongoing tug-of-war between the Guyana Sugar Corporation (GuySuCo) and the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL).Headquarters of the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL)During the Union’s end-of-year press conference, it was stated that there seems to be no clarity regarding the confusion that has surrounded the sugar industry, pointing out that this manifested through the Administration stripping GuySuCo of its assets relating to the closed estates and transferring them without liability to NICIL as well as shares of the Corporation.“At this time, the GAWU reiterates that situation cannot be allowed to continue the way it is, as it is not in the interest of anyone, especially the workers. GAWU calls on the Government to apprehend the sad situation that is prevailing. It is time to end the tug-of-war!” it stated.GAWU President Komal Chand recalled that a new GuySuCo Board was apparently appointed by NICIL, the Corporation’s new shareholder. That Board, which was announced with several full-colour newspaper advertisements, was quickly disowned by the Government.The Administration explained it had not approved the new Board though the media subsequently published a Cabinet memorandum, which confirmed that the Government had indeed approved a new Board. Chand said the Administration, which was caught with its pants down, reversed gears and said that the Clive Thomas-headed Board remained in charge.That Board’s life came to an end in April this year and after several missed deadlines, a new Board headed by John Dow was finally appointed in the latter part of 2018.GuySuCo’s assets linked to the closed estates were transferred without liability to NICIL“The clear confusion regarding sugar was also manifested when we saw musical chairs being played by the Ministers of Agriculture and Finance, with both gentlemen denying they had ministerial responsibility for the industry. Then suddenly and without any forewarning, the Agriculture Minister announced he was in charge of GuySuCo though no explanation, as far as we recall, was ever provided as to how the contradictions were resolved,” he added.Chand said at that time, it seemed that relations between GuySuCo and the Special Purpose Unit (SPU) of NICIL had reached its lowest ebb. Media reports later highlighted what seems to be an almost virtual standoff between the two bodies.Most recently, press reports point to wrangling regarding the refurbished La Bonne Intention (LBI) Club, which from the looks of it, appears to have benefited from tens of millions of dollars in work. “The relations between the two bodies charged with managing the sugar industry seems to be characterised by acrimony and discord, and has now, seemingly, reached a sad point, where – from all appearances – salvos are being traded in the media,” Chand stated.The airing of these disagreements in the public, GAWU believes, cannot be helpful to the industry’s cause at this time. Chand said at this point in time, when the livelihoods of thousands of workers stand in the balance, and the Guyanese people’s assets have been essentially mortgaged to secure the $30 billion financing, the confusion that reigns cannot be encouraging.“The apparent infighting between the two sugar management bodies, in our view, has to be laid squarely at the doorstep of the Government. The Administration, through its own indecision, has, in effect, allowed the situation to reach this sad point,” he added.The Union said it also recognised that there seemed to be some degree of confusion within the Administration regarding the sugar industry. That has now spilled over into the industry’s management, which, it said, will not help in confidence-building, essential for success.
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The National Transportation Safety Board took the unusual move last month of asking the Federal Aviation Administration to investigate the Ravn family of companies.Download AudioA report says Hageland failed to achieve safety outcomes, at the time losing operational control and launching flights without proper oversight. The company’s CEO says the report does not reflect the changes Ravn has made in recent months.Wreckage of the Cessna 208 that killed two pilots in April. (Photo courtesy of the Alaska State Troopers)The FAA says it already was looking into the companies before the NTSB issued its request. Still, the board wants a hard look at the airlines, citing 6 accidents over the past two years, including two fatal crashes in the Y-K Delta. Bob Hajdukovich is President and CEO of Ravn. He says the report is a step behind the company’s efforts.“Everything that is requested for in the letter has already happened or is in the process of happening, so really, what was the purpose of the letter?” Hajdukovich said.The NTSB says an inadequate risk assessment program may have played a role in the crash that killed four people in a Cessna 208 outside St. Marys in November. The agency says that flight is among many Hageland allowed to launch without knowing or addressing some risks.Hajdukovich says since January, that process of deciding whether it’s safe to fly was made in tandem with a central control center in Palmer. Before, flights were release based out of hubs like Bethel or Nome.“I think when you have a local control there is the potential for making more of an economic risk assessment as opposed to a pure risk assessment,” Hajdukovich said. said. “So in other words, that person on the ground in Bethel can be impacted by 300 people in the lobby, 20,000 pounds of mail, or bad weather. So there’s always a tension that’s there that you don’t want to be there when you’re truly trying to analyze the risk of the flight.”The NTSB held off on making their recommendation after the operational control center was in place. But after two pilots died on a training flight in April, the agency moved ahead.Hajdukovich lists millions of dollars in improvements at Era Aviation, now named Corvus Airline, which carries flights with 10 or more passengers. He adds Hageland is seeking 5-star rating in the Medallion Foundation safety program, which exceeds FAA regulations. In any case, Hajdukovich says safety is the top priority.“That’s not a long term strategy to hurt airplanes or certainly hurt our customers so we’re going to take every opportunity to improve our safety systems,” Hajdukovich said. “We have humans behind the wheel, and we have customers that can also be a part of our safety system. They should report that they were in bad weather and they didn’t think the pilot should be there. They should report that. They shouldn’t be so hungry to get home that they are part of that pressure pot, that pressure cooker,”The FAA says it will formally respond within 90 days. They report having increased surveillance since 2011 and had a team on site last week.