Fired bauxite workers prevent passage of $2.5M in logs in Berbice River

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Imtiaz Hoosein, owner of Hoosein Sawmill in Sheet Anchor, Canje Berbice, said he is being affected by the ongoing protest by the fired workers from the Russian Bauxite Company (RUSAL).

Hoosein told News Room that the workers are not allowing his lumber barge to pass in the Berbice River, which they have blocked off since February 27 in protest against RUSAL’s operations.

He said there are approximately $2.5M in logs that are on the barge.

“They blocking the river and the strike suppose to be for the RUSAL barges and I bought some logs from some people in Hururu, Aroaima and we left stuck up close to ten days now, they [workers] are not allowing us to pass,” Hoosein said.

The businessman said he transports logs regularly from the community along the Berbice River in Region 10, however, the blockage of the river is affecting his business.

“The Minister [of Natural Resources] can look into it, the strike is affecting the local loggers because it is two of us right now,” Hoosein said.

He further said, “they keep on telling us the strike is not for locals, it’s for the Russians, but nothing is doing because the people them are not cooperating with us.”

One of the fired workers, who prefers to remain anonymous, told News Room that the workers will not unblock the river until a meeting is held with RUSAL.

“It’s a national issue and we are heading in a positive direction so far. Until Friday or Saturday after the meeting with the company and the union, we will look to unblock the river,” the fired employee said.

The Bauxite Company and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) will begin bilateral meetings on Friday in order to return to normalcy.

A dispute with 61 workers and the bauxite company started on February 15, when the workers protested a one per cent increase in their wages and salaries. The 61 workers were subsequently fired by the company and have been protesting since.

RUSAL has since closed down parts of its operations as a result of the protest.

In addition to the 61 workers, RUSAL fired 30 more employees late last month. RUSAL told the Government that all workers, regardless of their rank, are paid a monthly income of $259,000.

RUSAL owns 90% of the Bauxite Company of Guyana and was given licences to develop bauxite deposit groups along Linden, Kwakwani and Ituni.

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