Berbice River company workers elect new bargaining body

The People United and General Workers Union (TPU&GWU) won the majority of votes cast by workers of the Oldendorff Carriers (Guyana) Inc., edging out the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) to become the new bargaining body for the workers of the Berbice River bauxite transshipment company.

The results of the poll were disclosed by TPU&GWU General Secretary Micah Alister Williams and a supporting letter addressedto the General Manager of Oldendorff Carrier Guyana Inc. from the Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board (TUR&CB) was seen by this newspaper.

The letter stated: “I wish to declare the results of the poll conducted on November 14, 2011 to determine the union to be certified as the recognized majority union for workers at Oldendorff Carriers (Guyana) Inc.”

The company had a total of 193 eligible voters of which 117 voted and  10 workers voted for the GB&GWU and 106 for the TPU&GWU. One vote was spoilt.

According to Williams, the workers had lost confidence in GB&GWU and in  February more than 100 workers supporting TPU&GWU requested that the certificate of recognition for the GB&GWU be cancelled.

“To accommodate the process for determining the employees’ choice for new union representation, the majority of non-management unionized employees have withdrawn their membership of the GB&GWU, which now has only fifteen employees as members. One hundred and thirty-one employees have now joined the People’s United and General Workers Union (TPU&GWU), which has applied for a certificate of recognition.”

The PU&GWU was registered under the Trade Union Act, Chapter 98.03, early this year. “The Executive Council comprises twelve young persons (a new generation of trade unionists) who have a vision and a new approach to deal with all aspects of worker-employer issues,” said Williams.

He said that most of the executive members were previously employees of the company but have since taken the decision to resign their positions to be fully committed to the union. Williams said that they are currently working with the company on the collective labour agreement and are expecting the first proposed draft from Oldendorff, which is expected  this week.

The PU&GWU said that it stands by its  motto, ‘United we stand divided we fall’ and  promised to produce a new vision and union practices, and introduce a generation of modern-thinking leaders to Guyana who would better the conditions of workers, while preparing for the introduction of a code of conduct among the unions.

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