Bauxite Union wants RUSAL ‘to leave’, says Gov’t is too ‘slack’ with company
Employees who were fired from the Russian Bauxite Company RUSAL, protested in the community of Aroiama Tuesday morning and were joined by residents in the neighbouring communities of Ituni and Kwakawani.
Secretary of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union Leslie Junor told News Room they want the company to leave Guyana; he said RUSAL is disrespecting workers by refusing to meet with the Union.
“Yes, we want them to leave; it will be a glorious day if they leave. They are here only punishing us, we were surviving long before they came and if they want to leave, we will survive,” Junor said.
He said the workers are prepared for alternatives if the company wants to shut down its operations in Guyana.
“We’re demanding that RUSAL acknowledge the Union or leave,” Junor emphasized.
On Monday, officials of Russian Aluminum (RUSAL,) which operates the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI), sent a letter to the Ministry of Social Protection requesting that the Bauxite Union not be part of the engagements relating to the firing of over 60 workers from the company.
The workers began protesting a 1% increase in their wages about two weeks ago and went on strike.
The Union Secretary told News Room, “they [RUSAL] need what we have and in order to acquire what we have they have to employ us.”
Despite meetings between the Government and RUSAL, there has been no positive outcome to the issue.
The Union Secretary said the Government needs to be sterner with the company.
“They [Government] are too slack with RUSAL, especially Social Protection and in particular Keith Scott [Minister of Labour]. They are not pulling the strings, RUSAL is calling the shots on them. RUSAL is telling them who they want on the union, when they want the person and these sort of nonsense and Keith Scott is tolerating it,” an upset Junor told News Room.
The company has since closed its operations after workers blocked the movement of its barges from going in and out of the Berbice River.
The company reported that they are losing $1M every day with the river blockage.
The Union has refused to instruct its workers to unblock the river unless the company engages them. (Isanella Patoir)