Home News Labour dept to mediate between RUSAL, Bauxite Union
– meeting planned for today as union complains of more violations
Government’s Department of Labour will be mediating talks today at its office in Georgetown between the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI) and Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) to iron out an industrial dispute.
According to GBGWU General Secretary Lincoln Lewis in a statement on Sunday, the 10:00h meeting was arranged after Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle intervened and extended invitations to both sides.
“GB&GWU shall attend, not only confident the laws are on the workers’ side, but in quickened steps to bring about resolution, conscious that the soil we walk on is drenched with the blood, sweat and tears of our forebears and made more enriched for the workers of today to first reap of its bounty,” Lewis made it clear in the statement.
This comes, however, even as the union complains that the company has ratcheted up its actions against striking workers. Lewis revealed that BCGI, which is owned by Russian firm RUSAL, even hired transportation to enforce their orders that striking employees leave their premises.
“The Russian management of BCGI must not be allowed to exploit our resources and in the process violate Guyanese and disrespect our laws. Not here in Guyana! 120 bauxite workers, including their families, who permanently reside in the residential location at Aroaima, owned by BCGI, were issued a circular last Friday to immediately vacate the community.”
“The company hired buses to facilitate the move to enforce its edict. The children of these workers attend the nursery and primary schools in the area. The surrounding communities are dependent on the workers.”
In addition, Lewis noted that other workers who live part-time on site have had kitchen services taken away from them. He explained that these workers spend two weeks on site and take their days off offsite.
“It is evident in the management thinking that workers can be brought to their knees by depriving them of food. This tactic will not break the indomitable spirit and will of those who are committed to struggle for their freedoms.
The many examples of history are on their side.”
According to Lewis, Friday’s strike action was inspired by BCGI’s failure to respect the workers’ rights to a union of their choice and collective bargaining. According to the union representative, the workers have only acted in accordance with Article 147 of the Guyana Constitution.
“The further act of seeking to physically dispossess them is not only lawless, inhumane, vindictive and uncalled for but a violation of their conditions of employment. Workers have ignored the edict and are resolutely standing their ground. They, along with their families, remain within Maple Town.”
“The Government of Guyana, the Ministry of Public Security now has the responsibility to ensure their safety and well-being in the area and immediate environs since their lives have made untenable by management.”
Lewis made it clear that the Government has joint shareholding interest in the bauxite company. He noted that therefore, the actions of management are also being perpetuated in the Government’s name.
“GB&GWU is on record saying the stalemate is much more than that of an industrial nature; it has elements of ethnic disrespect, political bias, political inaction and disrespect for Guyana’s sovereignty (Laws). Friday’s act by management, in closing down critical areas of operation (mining and maintenance) and ordering workers and their families out of the town, has escalated the contempt.”
“Enough is enough or as one striking worker said, if we don’t stand up now and fight, we won’t be able to fight in the future! That worker echoes the conviction of citizens of the world who believe in the benefit of respecting basic right of freedom of association,” Lewis stated.