It is time for the President to intervene in the bauxite dispute and return the situation to normalcy

Dear Editor,
Why should extraneous matters that have no relevance be injected into the dispute between RUSAL and GB&GWU.  What do annual meetings, auditing of accounts and distribution of union rules have to do with the bona fide issues raised under the Collective Labour Agreement by the union.

The dispute in question falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Collective Labour Agreement which ultimately provides for arbitration that procedurally is the recognized means of seeking redress in any dispute between management and union. That is the purpose of the Collective Labour Agreement.

It is a legitimate expectation premised on the rules of natural justice, reinforced by statute in the Labour Act, supported by ILO convention, ratified by the government and enforced by the Ministry of Labour in keeping with its role to maintain a stable industrial relations climate.

In this particular instance, it is a case of issues raised by the certified union that fall within the provisions of the Collective Labour Agreement in which the Ministry of Labour as the relevant government agency has a cardinal role in effecting an equitable and acceptable resolution, irrespective of whether Lincoln Lewis is not liked by the President or whether the GB&GWU is politically affiliated.  That is how the industrial relations process works, plain and simple.

The Minister may or may not be breaking any laws, but what is evident is the reality of inaction, unconcern, inertia and glaring bias in dealing with the issues.

The perception obviously is that different standards are applied by the Ministry of Labour in dealing with issues of a similar nature raised by other unions and the alacrity with which those issues are resolved as against the current issues raised by the GB&GWU.

How can the ministry avoid the perception of those, whose only concern is the equitable distribution of justice, from concluding that this inaction is not influenced by racial and political motives?  I do believe that it is time for the President to intervene and return this situation to normalcy.

Yours faithfully,
D Sookdeo

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