Bauxite strike ends, workers reinstated

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After over a month of striking and protesting, an agreement between the Russian bauxite company RUSAL and the Bauxite Workers Union was signed Wednesday and all 61 workers who were dismissed and 30 who were laid off, have been reinstated.

A statement from the union Wednesday revealed that the agreement states that there will be no victimisation or change of conditions for the reinstated workers, no compensation for time not worked during the dispute, the return of the check-off system and clearing of the Berbice River.

“Both parties have further agreed to recognise the sovereignty, Constitution and Laws of Guyana and neither shall act in contravention thereof; promised to uphold the spirit and goodwill to which the ToR [Terms of Resumption] was negotiated and signed and will do nothing to circumvent same,” the statement from the union noted.

It was further noted that a subsequent meeting will be held within 14 days following the full resumption of work with the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GB&GWU) and the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) to negotiate a new Collective Labour Agreement (CLA).

“The parties agreed that in the pursuit of a new CLA and in the Avoidance and Settlement of Disputes the procedure used for dealing with same in the old (former) CLA shall be utilised as an interim measure; and further agreed that all major issues which involve conditions of employment shall be addressed with a view to achieving resolution.”

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.

With the government’s intervention, RUSAL agreed to recognise the GB&GWU and the two parties had their first bilateral meeting Friday last.

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