Russian bauxite company sets up workers committee, day after skipping labour meeting

One day after failing to attend a meeting with the Ministers of Social Protection on Wednesday, the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) has formed a Workers’ Social Welfare Committee from among the non-management workforce.

A memo was served to “heads of departments and associates” at BCGI, which is a subsidiary of Russian Aluminum (RUSAL).

It stated that the committee would be formed “in order to function and foster the following: BCGI Workers Socio- economic issues and (to) be the BCGI workers medium for communication and information flow to and from BCGI management.”

The memo, which was signed by the Personnel Officer, Leroy Saul also informed the workers “one committee member will be nominated and be elected from each of the three shifts of the Mines, UMAEM, PG&EM, Plant Operations and Plant Maintenance departments.”

It said too that the “Georgetown Office and Warehouse may nominate one person each.”

According to the memo: “The Committee will comprise of 17 members and its terms of reference and mode of operations will be made known to all employees as soon as possible.”

Meanwhile, a release issued by the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GBGWU), noted that it received a copy of the memo from BCGI yesterday, “notifying of its intention to create what the missive describes as “a Workers’ Social Welfare Committee from among the non-management workforce.”

On Wednesday, Ministers of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence and Keith Scott had invited BCGI to a meeting along with the union, but BCGI did not show up.

It said too: “We believe that this development is reflective of the contempt in which the Russian management of BCGI holds high officials of our country. Indeed, we believe that the Government of Guyana would be failing in its duty were it not to place on record its concern over the discourtesy and, simultaneously, demand an apology of the transgressors.”

The union also believes that it has “reached a point where the Government of Guyana must lodge a protest with RUSAL at the highest possible level, over the conduct of its employees in Guyana.”

It would be entirely appropriate too, if the Government of Guyana were to publicly set its face against this new ruse by the Russian management of BCGI to control the workers and demand that it follow the dictates of the country’s constitution by immediately engaging the duly recognized trade union, the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union.

Ministers Lawrence and Scott are of the view that BCGI/RUSAL has disrespected the government of Guyana through its failure to attend a meeting to address pressing labour issues.

The ministers held the meeting to address various issues including workers’ matters with the company, some of which have been in the public domain since 2009.

The meeting was held at the Ministry’s Department of Labour, on Brickdam, Georgetown.

Meanwhile, the union and RUSAL have had issues pending over the dismissal and suspension of 57 workers, several years back.

Minister Scott had told the media that RUSAL’s failure to attend the meeting, shows a lack of respect for Guyana’s Laws and for the government.

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