Trade Unions came together Thursday morning to up pressure on the Government to act against the Russian bauxite company RUSAL which has dismissed 61 workers and refused to reinstate them.
“What hurts me the most is the fact that a foreign company is committing these violations on Guyanese soil,” said Corretta McDonald, President of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC).
“Had a Guyanese company done this in Russia they would have been severely sanctioned already,” she stated.
McDonald and representatives of various unions gathered in front of the RUSAL office in Forshaw Street, Georgetown to register their protest at the actions of the company and to force the Government to be more forthright in dealing with the company.
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) – an organization that represents the joint interests of a group of trade unions, inclusive of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union – were joined by the GTUC.
The Union representatives say the workers are being unjustly victimized in their own country by foreigners with little regard for Guyana’s labour laws or conventions on human rights.
The 61 workers were fired by the company after they decided to protest the imposition of a one percent increase in their salaries.
Lincoln Lewis, General Secretary of the Bauxite Union, told the News Room that the laws of Guyana “actually state that employees have a right to protest and any document prohibiting them from doing so is automatically null and void.”
Representatives of the unions said they are committed to continued action and are planning to conduct other demonstrations around the city.
On Wednesday, Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally said the Government will go to the “lengths” and will make a “decision” regarding the operations of RUSAL.
“I do not think we can tolerate…companies coming in to partner with Guyana and operate in this fashion,” Ally declared at a meeting with representatives of unions looking to represent the workers employed with the company.
RUSAL’s local subsidiary operates the bauxite mines in the Berbice River and employs about 540 workers. RUSAL founded a local subsidiary here in 2004 and two years later acquired the assets of the Aroaima Mining company in an agreement with the government.
The company was given licences to develop bauxite deposit groups along Linden, Kwakwani and Ituni.