In light of a number of irregularities during the election held on October 11 to select a bargaining agent for the non-management workers at Bosai, the People United and General Workers Union (TPU&GWU) has called for it to either be recognised or for a fresh poll to be held.
No winner was declared as neither TPU&GWU or the National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) managed to get the minimum 40% of the votes of workers comprising the bargaining unit. TPU&GWU, which received 132 votes to NAACIE’s 98, fell short by 16 votes.
However, TPU&GWU’s General Secretary Micah Williams told Stabroek News that the voting process saw over a dozen irregularities.
Williams explained that consistent with the Modality Agreement that the Ministry Labour/ Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board (TUR&CB), TPU&GWU and Bosai signed and agreed, two polling stations were to be established at the mines and one at the plant. However, on polling day the returning officer informed that the total number of polling stations was being reduced to two.
Williams also claimed that on polling day three new voters’ lists were presented to the union by the returning officer. These lists, he said, were not subject to a claims and objections process nor were they posted on Bosai’s notice boards at the various polling stations in keeping with their agreement. There was a variation in the number of voters listed on the two lists; the first had a total of 378 eligible voters, while the second had 369.
He also said that when mines workers showed up at the polling station at the plant to cast their votes, in keeping with the information from the original voters’ list, they were informed of the change in stations and were directed to the new one. “The workers argued that this new change was not in keeping with the first/original voters’ list that was posted on all three polling stations on September 30, 2017 and questioned why they were not notified earlier,” he explained, while noting that the workers did not have any transportation to take them to the mines polling station to vote and that it left them with no other choice but to go back home.
Williams also said because the polls were opened more than half an hour late, a number of mines workers who were scheduled to proceed on their days off were unable to cast their votes since the bus that was transporting them departed before polling started.
He stated too that a number of workers complained that they felt intimidated and were fearful of losing their jobs or not receiving a wage increase after they were instructed by management to vote for a particular union.
Williams told this newspaper that despite an earlier promise, Bosai did not issue a Company Identification Card to all of its workers, despite requests. “Some of the workers on the polling day asked Bosai for company ID cards so they can vote but they were told they cannot get any since the photographer is not available,” he said.
Additionally, he said workers at Bosai’s Georgetown office were not given an opportunity to vote.
“Based on TPU&GWU’s application and the membership survey conducted by the TUR&CB, TPU&GWU had over 50% of the members of the bargaining unit but due to what took place before and during October 11, 2017, a number of members were unable to cast their votes. The union fell short of approximately sixteen which were needed to gain the 40%…,” he stressed, while claiming that over 186 workers did not get a free and fair opportunity to cast their vote.
Williams stated that the result of the poll clearly shows that majority of the workers voted for the union to become their bargaining agent. As a result, he said a number of workers are calling for the TPU&GWU to be certified as their bargaining agent or for a second poll to be conducted. “If the poll was conducted free and fair, TPU&GWU is 100% sure it would have won over 40% of the votes from the workers who comprises the bargaining unit,” he added.