Overseas companies must adhere to labour regulations – Minister Scott

The Government will “not condone” multinational companies operating locally in breach of the laws of this country. This is according to Minister within the Social Protection Ministry, Keith Scott, who has responsibility for labour. Minister Scott noted that both local and foreign companies will not be allowed to “interfere with the workings of the unions.”

Bauxite operations in Guyana
Bauxite operations in Guyana

On Tuesday, the Minister met with executives of RUSAL-owned Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI). According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) release, this meeting comes in light of the Ministry’s “continued effort to engage employers, trade unions and stakeholders within the labour sector”. Scott related that the intention of the meeting was “to ensure that both local and overseas companies understand the Constitution of Guyana and respect the labour laws”.
“The team put the cards on the table and they have some concerns with the ongoing dispute… but what we did, we put aside those areas that are very contentious and emotional and we discussed the principles in terms of respecting the Constitution of Guyana, the laws of Guyana and the trade union recognition that exists,” GINA quoted Scott as saying.
According to the Minister, the Russian-owned company has indicated its willingness to facilitate trade unions. RUSAL’s Human Resources Manager Tolpykin Igor explained that the company has been doing “all in its power” to ensure that workers are “comfortable”, claiming that they are being “paid above the minimum wage”. Igor also pointed out that the bauxite company is willing to facilitate trade unions and have amicable solutions to any issues affecting workers, and is also encouraging the Ministry to conduct inspections at any time.
In 2009, 57 workers engaged in strike action for increased wages and improved working conditions. In December of that year, the Russian company axed a labour agreement with the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU). However the GBGWU spoke out against this action.
Earlier this year, Minister Scott met with the company and subsequently, the GBGWU, to facilitate “amicable discussions” between the union and employers. The Moscow Times had noted that RUSAL is the world’s largest producer of alumina and aluminum.