Ten Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI/RUSAL) employees were injured at the mine after a minibus transporting workers toppled due to the poor road conditions on Saturday. The names of the injured were not available yesterday.
Region 10 Chairman Sharma Solomon told Stabroek News yesterday that the major concern lies with the fact that the roads used by RUSAL are not gazetted. He said that the roads are private and the Bauxite Company refuses to recognize the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) so when accidents occur RUSAL claims it has no responsibility. It was not possible to contact RUSAL yesterday for comment.
On Saturday, rain made the private road used by RUSAL very dangerous and at approximately 18:00 hrs the vehicle toppled. Another vehicle was able to rescue the injured who had to crawl out from the windows after the bus turned over. The injured were taken to the Kwakwani Hospital for further examination. Soloman stated that he was not aware that any of the injured were kept for observation.
Soloman said that “for years we have been trying to get these roads gazetted, we’ve complained for years because persons aren’t covered once things like this happen. The company doesn’t have proper safety procedures.”
He stated that the transporting of workers is done through a private contractor so even when accidents occurred the insurance coverage is private and there is nothing for the workers to claim. Soloman told Stabroek News that injured workers are covered for their sick leave but there is no union representation that is adhered to by the bauxite company.
In a press statement, the GB&GWU noted that RUSAL “continues to get away [with] bad corporate practices and disrespect for the Laws of Guyana because the government is uncaring and disrespecting of the category of workers employed by BCGI…the situation is made worse by an opposition that prefers to turn the other way.”
In the statement, the GB&GWU noted “the accident occurred in a company assigned vehicle, on a company road, when workers were being transported in the execution of their duties. This is another industrial accident resulting from negligence and gross occupational safety and health shortcoming which highlight the risk which BCGI workers faced on a daily basis. We are reminded that accidents do not just happen but are themselves a result of failure to observe measures appropriate to their prevention.”
The GB&GWU stated that they have raised their concerns with the Labour Ministry but these pleas have gone unacknowledged. The union cited instances where workers’ lives were lost and their rights compromised. According to the GB&GWU, a mine at Aroaima caved in on a man in 2011, two died and additional 15 were injured due to machinery malfunctioning in 2010 and in 2009 67 workers were suspended after protesting the lack of working vehicles.