Aurora Gold Mine transfers over 100 former Goldfields workers to subcontractor
In a move the Union called anti-Union, over 100 former Guyana Goldfield workers who were rehired when Zijin Mining Group took over Aurora, have been transferred to sub-contractor Sinohydro.
This was confirmed by a letter dated November 8 and seen by this publication, in which AGM wrote to National Mine Workers Union (NMWU) President Sherwyn Downer, informing him that the first set of transfers took effect from November 1, 2020 – seven days prior.
In the letter, Downer was informed that the decision will affect a total of 141 workers, most of whom were former Guyana Goldfields employees who were rehired and placed on a three-month contract.
The transfer of 24 permanent employees, who Downer said belonged to the Union he heads, took effect from November 1, while 117 workers who were on the contract will be transferred from December 14, 2020, to January 2021.
According to AGM, “due to the efforts by the company to complete the preparation for the full resumption of operations, a number of former and new employees were hired.”
“The company has also engaged a contractor, Sinohydro Corporation Limited, for the Stripping and Mining activities at its mines at Aurora. In this regard, the company has decided to transfer those employees who were hired by AGM to work for the contractor Sinohydro,” the letter seen by this publication said.
In the letter, which was copied to Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle, assurances were given that workers would continue to enjoy their previous benefits and would continue to be represented by their recognised Union.
But in an interview with this publication, Downer criticised the decision and the fact that as the Union President he was only notified one week after. He also questioned whether the permanent workers were paid their severance.
According to Downer, the transfer of the remaining workers who were part of his Union means that he can no longer represent them like before. He made it clear that he would push for the matter to be addressed.
Aurora Gold Mine, located in Region Seven, was once owned by Canadian mining company Guyana Goldfields. But in May 2020, Goldfields moved to downsize its operations after facing constraints from the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with other financial woes. It was also linked to the company’s transition into underground mining.
After initially selling its operations to Silvercorp, another Canadian mining company, Zijin Mining Group, made a superior offer to Goldfields that Silvercorp failed to match within the stipulated time. As a result, Zijin was able to clinch the deal and complete the takeover in August.
A number of local workers were laid off by Goldfields in the process, their job descriptions ranging from attendants to electricians to heavy-duty equipment operators and blasters, while the rest were able to retain their jobs during a “care and maintenance” period.
However, Goldfields is currently restarting its operations, with its stripping and other mining activities at Aurora being undertaken by Sinohydro, another Chinese company. (G3)