Some 288 workers laid off by RUSAL

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The Russian Aluminum (RUSAL) owned Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) has laid off 146 workers effective Thursday, January 30. This in addition to the 142 employees laid off on January 23, bringing the total number to 288.

The workers affected range from heavy-duty equipment operators to supervisors.

The company said it is forced to take this action “due to adverse operating circumstances including shipment interruption due to the blockage of the Berbice River.”

Workers who were laid off on January 23 blocked the river in a bid to force the company not only to rehire them but to also increase their wages.

This hindered the company’s export of Bauxite for one week. RUSAL operates in Kwakwani, Ituni, Linden and Aroaima.

The first lay off was blamed on a shortage of fuel since the company said it was not granted permission by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to import duty-free fuel.

But President of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union, Lincoln Lewis said this was not true since GRA has been granting the waivers to import the duty-free fuel.

The News Room learnt that the company at one point agreed to rehire the workers but the union said it will not give-in unless RUSAL agrees to increase wages and salaries or go to arbitration – a fight it has been involved in since 2009.

The company has in the past refused arbitration, noting that no third party should be involved in its wage negotiations.

The union said RUSAL Bauxite workers are paid the lowest in the industry.

The News Room understands that a meeting is expected between the company and the Ministry of Social Protection’s Labour Department on Thursday.

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