by Emmanuel Joseph
Construction work on a new multi-million-dollar multi-purpose sugar factory to replace Andrews in St. Joseph, is scheduled to start by year end.
And yesterday, notice was given to the more than 100 workers employed by Andrews that the factory was closing at the end of this year’s crop, for which grinding ended just over a week ago.
General Manager of the Barbados Agricultural Management Company, Leslie Parris, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon that the closure of Andrews was to prepare for the start of work on the new facility, which is to open in 2016. “A decision was taken to close Andrews to prepare for the new multi-purpose factory to open in 2016. The workers were notified through their two representative bodies, the Barbados Workers Union and the Sugar Industry Supervisors Association,” Parris pointed out.
The general manager declined to specify the number of workers who would be impacted by the closure, explaining that BAMC was still in consultation with their unions.
He said preparations for next year’s sugar harvest would begin by August at Portvale in St. James, the only factory which would now be operating for the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
One of the workers at Andrews told this newspaper today, they were notified by the union yesterday of their pending termination, although up to this afternoon nothing had been received directly from management. The employee said he was still waiting to get his “papers” from management, adding that he expected to receive them on Monday.
But the BAMC boss said management was obligated to inform the workers, suggesting that this was done through their representative body.
As far as the new factory was concerned, Parris said it would employ 350 people, both permanent and seasonal.
“These will include operators and electrical engineers,” he added.
“Work on the multi-purpose factory should start in about six months. It will produce special sugars for direct consumption, ‘A’ strike molasses for the local rum industry; will produce energy — renewable energy — from biomass — 25 megawatts of electricity for the national grid,” he revealed.
Parris could not say what the fate of Portvale would be, once the new energy-generating facility was up and running. A Japanese company has expressed an interest in funding
the project, which aims to convert the declining sugar sector into a sugarcane and renewable energy industry. The facility, which will be constructed in two phases, will result in the processing of over 330,000 tons of sugarcane to produce 15,000 tons of raw sugar, 12,000 tons of refined sugar
and 24,000 tons of molasses. In addition to the bagasse by-product from the processing of sugar cane, a further 150,000 tons of River Tamarind biomass will be used to generate over 170,000 megawatt hours of electricity.
Government officials have said that the expanded and refurbished facility will meet international food grade and environmental standards and allow for co-generation of heat and electricity in a 25 megawattts base power generating plant. [email protected]