HEY CARIB-61 striking workers fired by bauxite company- BLAME PPP

61 striking workers fired by bauxite company

…Union cries constitutional violation, calls for political intervention
…company no-show at Labour Dept’s conciliation meeting

The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) is holding on to its call for Government to intervene in the Russian Aluminium Company (RUSAL) controversy, which took another turn with the abrupt firing of some 61 striking Guyanese workers. This was confirmed by the GBGWU’s President Lincoln Lewis, who told Guyana Times on Monday that a list of names was provided which detailed the workers who are now jobless.
On Friday, operations at the company’s Region 10 location were temporarily shut down after workers protested an arbitrary one per cent salary increase by the multi-national company – an increase which was reportedly sanctioned by Guyana’s Government. Lewis was asked if he has been given assurances by the Minister charged with oversight of Labour, Keith Scott, of a possibility of settling the matter, but the Union President responded in the negative.
“We didn’t talk with the Labour Minister, there’s no assurances from anybody,” Lewis strongly commented.
On Monday, RUSAL’s management was a no-show at a conciliation meeting even though they were called upon by the Labour Department. It has been relayed that the affected workers were given letters of termination dated February 18, 2019, without reasons cited. However, the Union representative plans to ventilate the issue to the fullest extent, saying that matter would be “prosecuted”. He did not confirm if this meant that RUSAL’s representatives would be served with legal action but noted that it is a possibility.
“It would be possible – we are contemplating both political and legal action,” Lewis stressed.
He further noted that there have been several constitutional violations on the part of the foreign-based company over the last decade, but Lewis is of the view that the State would not have allowed local companies to do the same. He said it is only the politicians that can speak as to why this has been continuing.
Lewis said that he sees this current issue as a transgression on the rights of workers. “When people can challenge your Constitution and your laws, then you have to take action against them…the President and the Opposition Leader should get involved,” Lewis, who is also General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), said.
Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle has, however, indicated that a conciliation meeting will be held today.
RUSAL’s reported dismissal comes after workers were, in fact, threatened with dismissal after they initiated the strike action. However, under Article 147 of the Constitution of Guyana, striking workers are afforded protection.
The company, in a letter dated February 15, 2019, which was seen by this publication noted that management had no alternative but to close the mine area due to the withdrawal of labour by workers attached to the mining equipment/mobile equipment maintenance department. It noted that work was halted in the department until further notice. “All affected workers are asked to leave the premises of the company with immediate effect,” the letter went on to state.
There was a planned meeting between management and employees on Saturday where workers intended to reiterate their calls for a 15 per cent increase. During the meeting, issues such as wage increases, living quarters and transportation were reportedly discussed and Regional Vice Chairman for Region Ten (Upper Demerara-Berbice), Elroy Adolph in an invited comment said employees were very disturbed over the rate of the increase, but have faith in the Workers Union.
The GBGWU on Friday noted the situation was an embarrassment to all Guyanese. According to the Union, Article 147 (2) of the Constitution of Guyana protects the right to strike, noting that in the collective bargaining process, striking is considered an industrial weapon to be used whenever the circumstances become necessary.
“In this period of political division and external tension with our neighbour Venezuela that is facilitating a growing presence of Russia in its ongoing pursuit of geopolitical relevance, is management’s new threats and intensified violation a strategy we must pay attention to,” the Union had also stated.

Original Post

No commitment that RUSAL bauxite workers would be reinstated

 

RUSAL’s Representative, Vladimir Permyakov speaking with the media as Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle (green shirt) leaves the boardroom at the Department of Labour.

Top officials of United Company Russian Aluminium (UC RUSAL) and government’s Labour Department on Tuesday gave no clear indication on whether 60 workers, who were fired on Monday, would be reinstated.

A number of angry persons blocked a road which leads to the mines at Kwakwani.

Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle did not address claims by RUSAL’s Representative, Vladimir Permyakov that the workers at Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) signed a contract stating their services would be terminated if they down tools. “Strike is the worst form. It’s a conflict,” Permyakov said, adding that the strike by 60 persons was a breach of the technological chain which could have serious consequence for occupational safety and health.

Ogle said he has not seen the contract between the workers and RUSAL’s management. The Labour Department said two representatives from RUSAL’s headquarters were due in Guyana this week for talks with the Labour Department which has “put forward two proposals”. He declined to divulge the details.

The Chief Labour Officer and Permyakov said the Ministers of Labour, Amna Ally and Keith Scott were due to visit the mines site and meet with workers.

Workers and other persons blocking a road at Kwakwani that leads to RUSAL’s mining operations.

Permyakov believed that the workers’ decision to strike last week to protest a one percent salary increase for 2019 was instigated by someone else. He said 60 workers were fired on Monday after several appeals for them to return to work and forget the grievance that stemmed from the pay dispute. “Never say never again. We shall see… We were open (to having them reinstated) on Friday, on Saturday, on Sunday. We spoke many times… They were asked a few times, many times: ‘guys, stop it. We shall forget that you didn’t work those hours. Forget it’ and the company still had to pay other workers who had to stop performance because teams must be complete,” he said.

He noted that 10 years ago, 57 workers were fired because they went on strike and for that “no excuses, no regrets”.

Asked what will happen if the dismissed workers do not remove from the mines site, he said there was no place in the dormitories and canteen for the new shifts that are expected to assume duty on their shift.

The RUSAL official described the “illegal action” by the workers at the mines site as “very unfortunate”. On the issue of the one percent salary increase, he explained from 2013 to 2019 workers have earned a 15 percent increase based on approval of the indexation by RUSAL’s headquarters.

Permyakov said the workers get several fringe benefits such as free electricity, 50 percent cheaper cooking gas, income tax, social security, health insurance and pensions although the company has not been making a profit for the past 14 years in Guyana. “Our company is financially audited every year. We are open and transparent. You can see we are not profitable,” he said.

RUSAL’ Personnel Manager, Mikhail Krupnenin and his Industrial Relations Adviser, Mohammed Akeel who is a former Chief Labour Officer.

With mining at a standstill and only kiln drying of ore being done, the industrial unrest escalated over the last few days leading to the dismissal of 61 Guyanese workers. Union representatives said they have refused eviction orders by the company and were holding their ground until their demands were met satisfactorily.

The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU), which is the recognised bargaining agent, said grievances include a measly one percent salary increase for 2019, poor occupational safety and health, unilateral cut in vacation allowances and non-payment for work on holidays.

However, Permyakov said RUSAL has no relationship with the union, saying that the poll conducted on October 3, 2017 was done by a null and void Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board.

But, the Chief Labour Officer said his department would hold a joint meeting with officials of the union and management. “We are still engaging because the union is left out. The union has to be part of this process,” he said.

According to the company’s website, RUSAL  is a leading, global producer of aluminium. In 2017 it accounted for approximately 5.8% of global production of aluminium and 6.3% of alumina. UC RUSAL employs 62,000 persons in 20 countries, across 5 continents.

Gov’t, Opposition and citizens should pay heed to the Russians’ aggression


As Guyanese travel the journey to make this land a place not only habitable, but also comfortable, it requires leadership that is visionary and courageous, to seek the fostering and maintenance of a cohesive society. These were qualities demonstrated by pre-independence leaders, who, regardless of political persuasion, displayed the will in putting Guyana first and its people foremost.
The tendency to concentrate solely on the shortcomings of Forbes Burnham and Cheddi Jagan, who brought us independence, allows for ignoring and emulating their strengths, which included their ability to maintain cordial relations, as well as engage and resolve differences in the interest of Guyana.
Following independence, Guyana’s major economic base was controlled by foreign powers. For example, bauxite mining was controlled by Canadian and American companies, and sugar by the British. These two industries employed a significant amount of Guyanese labour, and also made up the largest workforce. Both Jagan and Burnham, while recognising the importance of sugar and bauxite as foreign revenue earners, were equally conscious of the value of human resources to the country’s development, and sought to preserve and protect same.
Burnham, in 1957, during an address, said the moment we give up on the working class we had better arrange for our political funeral. Jagan’s fight for the working class is well known and documented. These two giants helped to give validity to modern labour struggles waged at the time by Hubert Nathaniel Critchlow. Discrimination against Guyanese based on race, gender, colour, class, religion and other ethnicity were something these men fought against. They worked together to put laws, programmes and structures in place to minimise and eradicate inequalities.
In the bauxite communities, Guyanese of colour were not permitted to enter the expatriates’ residential areas unless assigned to provide services. Weeders, cleaners and cooks, though permitted to work in the senior staff residential areas, were not allowed to use the front entrance. Across the length and breadth of this country, those who managed the economic affairs of major institutions were foreigners, who did not look like the majority of us, and rejected our uniqueness.
Notwithstanding the circumstance where bauxite, sugar and banking dominated the economic landscape, and were seen as premier private sector institutions, Burnham and Jagan fought for, created and upheld laws that protected the working class. Today we must ask ourselves how do our current cadre of politicians rate in terms of protecting the well-being of Guyana’s human capital, those who put them in office and turn the engine for development.

Presently, there is the continuing violation of Guyana Laws. It is a backward step and an indictment for the rights of workers to be blatantly transgressed by a predominantly foreign-owned company, in apparent comfort with the Government of Guyana. The Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI), with government 10 percent and Russia 90 percent shareholding interest, since 2009 has had its foreign management running roughshod over Guyanese workers.
Workers have been publicly and constantly crying for their basic rights to be respected, but the Russian management has been allowed, by successive governments and opposition, to do as it pleases. The exception has been Robert Corbin, as Leader of the Opposition, who brought a no-confidence motion in the National Assembly against then Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir’s handling of the matter.
Let me present an example of how a Minister of Labour, Claude Merriman, in the Burnham Government, dealt with a foreign company seeking to transgress workers’ rights. In 1965, there was a strike at the Demerara Bauxite (Demba) Plant in Linden. The Mines Workers’ Union advised the Ministry of Labour of the strike, and the Minister invited the company and union to a meeting. The company initially said it would not attend, and on the first day refused to turn up. The union and company were once again invited, and at that meeting, the company’s representative entered and took a seat.
Merriman asked the Personnel Manager, “Who are you?” He responded, “I am Louis Mobrey, Personnel Manager of Demba.” The Minister’s response was, “I invited you to a meeting yesterday and you sent a message that you were not coming. Today you have turned up, opened the door and walked into my meeting.” He went on to say the meeting was his, and ordered Mobrey out.
Merriman made it known that Mobrey could only return when an apology was offered for disrespecting his office, the laws and culture of Guyana. Mobrey complied, both orally and written, and the issue/grievance between the union and company, with the minister playing a conciliating role, was resolved.
On Friday last (15th February), BCGI workers took industrial action, protesting the company’s imposition of a one percent increase in wages and its continuous refusal to deal with the recognised union, the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers’ Union (GB&GWU). Immediately after the workers struck, management reportedly threatened that if they did not return to work within the day, they would be fired. A circular was subsequently issued, on the same day, advising that the mines and maintenance department would be closed, and workers should leave the premises.
The Union advised the Labour Department of the new development and was invited to a meeting, along with the management, tomorrow – i.e. Monday, February 18th. It will be left to be seen whether BCGI’s management, that has been contemptuous of our laws and workers/citizens, will attend the meeting. If they fail to do so, the workers, the trade union community and society will take note of the action(s) the subject minister and ministry would employ to ensure the dignity and respect for the Laws of Guyana and Guyanese.
We are in an election season, and this will probably be the most highly contested. United Nations Resident Representative Mikiko Tanaka, at a recent address, reminds us that “SDG [Sustainable Development Goal] 16 recognises that building peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and that are based on respect for human rights, including the rights of development, requires effective rule of law and good governance on all levels, and are transparent, effective and accountable to institutions.”
She went on further to note that voting citizens, both young and old, and male and female, should inform themselves of issues that affect their lives in the wider society, as well as what they should expect and demand from political parties as it relates to shaping the future of the country. Government, Opposition and citizens are urged to pay heed.

Baseman posted:

There is little anyone can do.  The Americans, Canadians, Aussies etc don’t want it so that leaves the hardy Russians and Chinese as their only hope.  Keep striking and playing bad, you will be left with nothing.

The Americans and Canadians were there and those two Commie jackasses Burnham and Jagan kicked them out because they had their noses up the Russians butt. This is the result we see today. Can you imagine if those two fools were allowed to hand the country on a platter to the Soviets. We’d be worse off than Cuba today. 

Prashad posted:

A Russian man told Prashad that you dig six inches in Russia and you will find bauxite now how can Guyana compete with that.

Nonsense!  So why are they in Guyana?  Russia and China are the two largest demand markets for virgin aluminium that’s why they do a lot of mining and smelting.

The problem for Guyana, they don’t smelt.  They sell a semi-process intermediate which still needs a lot value add to make it consumable!

Dem should go back to wuk and be happy fuh di half loaf dem getting.  

Baseman posted:
 

Nonsense!  So why are they in Guyana?  Russia and China are the two largest demand markets for virgin aluminium that’s why they do a lot of mining and smelting.

The problem for Guyana, they don’t smelt.  They sell a semi-process intermediate which still needs a lot value add to make it consumable!

Dem should go back to wuk and be happy fuh di half loaf dem getting.  

https://www.stabroeknews.com/2...torials/03/16/rusal/

Also the Russians became involved in 2004. Guess who was president then.

One can say that the Coalition are incompetent and indifferent with RUSAL but the PPP weren't saints either.

Baseman posted:
caribny posted:

Who sold the bauxite company to RUSAL?  They are behaving the same way as they did under the PPP.

Even burnham could not save it.  It worse off than sugar. 

That's interesting. No one wants to buy sugar but the Chinese are active in Guyanese bauxite.  The Russians have their own problems and make the Guyanese suffer as a result.

Prashad posted:

What this government should do is to look for the creation of other industries in the bauxite producing areas. If Alcan and Alcoa are taking financial blows then so can every other bauxite producer.

And notably you dont mention sugar which no one wants.   Has anyone rushed to acquire the closed estates to grow sugar?  Even Jagdeo screams that these are unprofitable and its only because most working there are Indians why he thinks that keeping the industry alive is essential.

caribny posted:
Baseman posted:
caribny posted:

Who sold the bauxite company to RUSAL?  They are behaving the same way as they did under the PPP.

Even burnham could not save it.  It worse off than sugar. 

That's interesting. No one wants to buy sugar but the Chinese are active in Guyanese bauxite.  The Russians have their own problems and make the Guyanese suffer as a result.

I don’t think you care to understand the issue and why bauxite has to be addressed differently than sugar!  You just see coolie and Blackman!

caribny posted:
Prashad posted:

What this government should do is to look for the creation of other industries in the bauxite producing areas. If Alcan and Alcoa are taking financial blows then so can every other bauxite producer.

And notably you dont mention sugar which no one wants.   Has anyone rushed to acquire the closed estates to grow sugar?  Even Jagdeo screams that these are unprofitable and its only because most working there are Indians why he thinks that keeping the industry alive is essential.

I was surprised by the behaviour of DDL They withdrew their bid for the sugar plantation. They are an international company yet in the end refuse to invest in Guyana.

Prashad posted:
caribny posted:
Prashad posted:

What this government should do is to look for the creation of other industries in the bauxite producing areas. If Alcan and Alcoa are taking financial blows then so can every other bauxite producer.

And notably you dont mention sugar which no one wants.   Has anyone rushed to acquire the closed estates to grow sugar?  Even Jagdeo screams that these are unprofitable and its only because most working there are Indians why he thinks that keeping the industry alive is essential.

I was surprised by the behaviour of DDL They withdrew their bid for the sugar plantation. They are an international company yet in the end refuse to invest in Guyana.

Might be temporary. Why bid for the sugar plantation now when if the PPP gets back in power the plantations will be reopened? Wait until the smoke clears.

Baseman posted:
 

I don’t think you care to understand the issue and why bauxite has to be addressed differently than sugar!  You just see coolie and Blackman!

Yes. Indians matter. Blacks don't.   The mere fact that there is private sector investment in bauxite but no one wants to buy the closed estates should indicate something to you other than "coolie and blackman".

Drugb posted:

Maybe them 61 chaps can find work as cane cutters?   Interesting how cribby already found a way to blame PPP for this. 

And yet the PPP sold to the Russians so how come they don't share the blame?  In addition the Russians merely continue the disrespectful behavior that began under the PPP. 

So while I am interested to see what APNU/AFC does about this I will not allow you to prance off and pretend as if the PPP hasn't a role in this.

Now go and do your usual and consume black vegetables.  I do not expect a sensible response from you.  At least not until you orgasm.

Prashad posted:
 

I was surprised by the behaviour of DDL They withdrew their bid for the sugar plantation. They are an international company yet in the end refuse to invest in Guyana.

Tribal loyalties extend but so far. Why will DDL invest in a money losing enterprise filled with political ranting when sourcing molasses from existing estates or from foreign suppliers is less risky?   You think they want Jagdeo to go screaming that they must incur losses to fix a mess that he himself created?

GTAngler posted:
.

Might be temporary. Why bid for the sugar plantation now when if the PPP gets back in power the plantations will be reopened? Wait until the smoke clears.

I see that you drink the Jagdeo coolaid.  The poor shape of these estates indicates that the PPP planned to close several of them.  Definitely Wales.  Long ago the PPP planned to center all of sugar in Berbice.

Ask Jagdeo about the estates on ECD/EBD.

caribny posted:
GTAngler posted:
.

Might be temporary. Why bid for the sugar plantation now when if the PPP gets back in power the plantations will be reopened? Wait until the smoke clears.

I see that you drink the Jagdeo coolaid.  The poor shape of these estates indicates that the PPP planned to close several of them.  Definitely Wales.  Long ago the PPP planned to center all of sugar in Berbice.

Ask Jagdeo about the estates on ECD/EBD.

Is that  what you got from  what I wrote? Shows you don't pay attention  to anything that doesn't  serve your agenda. 

GTAngler posted:
caribny posted:
GTAngler posted:
.

Might be temporary. Why bid for the sugar plantation now when if the PPP gets back in power the plantations will be reopened? Wait until the smoke clears.

I see that you drink the Jagdeo coolaid.  The poor shape of these estates indicates that the PPP planned to close several of them.  Definitely Wales.  Long ago the PPP planned to center all of sugar in Berbice.

Ask Jagdeo about the estates on ECD/EBD.

Is that  what you got from  what I wrote? Shows you don't pay attention  to anything that doesn't  serve your agenda. 

I  understand perfectly what you are trying to say and telling you that if Jagdeo installs Irfaan as president suddenly closed estates will not be on his agenda.

A mere ploy to get votes.  Only simpletons will believe him. His big Berbice project will be to get the gov't to overpay for the Berbice bride so that his buddies can get really paid and he will get his cut.  Aside from that its only Exxon which will occupy his time.

Prashad posted:
caribny posted:

Who sold the bauxite company to RUSAL?  They are behaving the same way as they did under the PPP.

It's better for the Russians to own the bauxite company than the Chinese. The Chinese will bring their own workers.

Well the PPP allowed both in.

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