American union condemns govt action in bauxite workers saga

An American union has condemned the Guyana government’s actions in relation to the ongoing bauxite union saga and says it will consider initiating or supporting proceedings at the ILO against the government as well as urge the United States to take punitive actions against the government if the matters are not resolved.

In a letter sent to Minister of Labour, Manzoor Nadir, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) 1199, United Healthcare Workers East noted the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union’s (GB&GWU) seven-month-old impasse with the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI) owned by the Russian Aluminum firm RUSAL and the Government if Guyana. Letters were also sent to President Bharrat Jagdeo and Head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr Roger Luncheon.

The union pointed to the violations of International Labour Conventions by BCGI, the company’s arbitrary termination of the Collective Labour Agree-ment and the wrongful dismissal of 57 workers, including Union leaders. It said that the Guyanese government, a signatory to the International Labour Organisation Convention, countenanced these acts which violated international law.

The union’s letter, in the form of a resolution noted its awareness “of the pattern of union busting and workers’ abuse in Guyana”, including the violation of rights of public sector employees and their union and demanded that the government of Guyana comply with international law. It also called on the government to end its “discrimination” against the GB&GWU and that it discontinue its decertification effort, and take immediate action to reinstate the affected workers and award them their lawful wages.

The union warned that if these demands are not met within a reasonable time, 1199 SEIU will consider initiating or supporting proceedings at the ILO against the Guyanese government, as well as urge the United States to take punitive actions against the government.

In a statement, the GB&GWU said it continues to partner with other international bodies in upping the pressure on the Government of Guyana to respect international and local laws and workers rights. The union will not relent or weaver until this matter is prosecuted to the end, it said.

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