Owing to non-management workers employed with Bosai Minerals Group (Guyana) Inc (BMGGI) losing confidence in the representation provided by the National Association of Agricultural Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE), which is the present bargaining agent for the said workers, they requested to be represented by the People United and General Workers Union (PU&GWU). As such the PU&GWU in keeping with the Guyana Trade Union Act made an application to the Guyana Trade Union Recognition and Certification Board (TUR&CB) seeking a Certificate of Recognition to become the bargaining agent for the workers. The TUR&CB via letter informed the PU&GWU that it had over 50% support among the non-management workers and as such the GTUR&CB had ordered a poll to be conducted to determine which of the two unions would become the bargaining agent. On September 4, 2017 a meeting was held in the boardroom of the Ministry of Social Protection (Labour Department) which was attended by a representative of the GTR&CB (who chaired the meeting), General Secretary of PU&GWU (myself) and the Senior Personnel Manager of BOSAI along with Mr Norman McLean, consultant to BOSAI. The parties signed an agreement on the modalities of a poll which will be held on October 11, 2017 between the PU&GWU and NAACIE.
A number of workers of BOSAI are bitterly complaining that they are being advised by officers of NAACIE that no poll will be held between PU&GWU and NAACIE since NAACIE claims its membership comprises over 50% of the non-management workers, and the poll that was ordered by the TUR&CB cannot therefore be conducted. Furthermore, NAACIE has written to the TUR&CB stating that the TUR&CB’s decision for a poll was in branch of sections of the Trade Union Act (a copy of the letter was given to PU&GWU). And if the TUR&CB proceeded with the poll NAACIE would take legal action.
Article 21 of the Guyana Trade Union Recognition Act clearly states as follows: “provided that where a certified Union is being challenged and the challenging Union satisfies the Board, by means of a survey, that the support of the challenging Union among the workers in the unit is not less than forty per cent, the Board shall cause a poll to be taken, but the certificate of recognition of the challenged Union shall not be cancelled where the challenging Union fails to obtain a majority of not less than forty per cent amongst the workers in the unit.”
The PU&GWU fully supports the move by the GTUR&CB to order the poll between the two unions because if NAACIE has over 50% membership of the non-management workers and the PU&GWU has over 50% support, it means that some NAACIE members have joined the PU&GWU, so the only way the TUR&CB can address this matter is if they hold a poll and let the non-management workers vote for which of the two unions they want to represent them. It is the constitutional right of workers to elect a union of their choice and as such their rights must be respected.
NAACIE also did not attend any of the meetings at the Ministry of Labour relating to the conduct of the poll, although they were invited. This leaves the PU&GWU wondering if NAACIE really respects the laws of Guyana which provides for workers to elect a union of their choice and if they really have the workers’ or interest at heart? NAACIE was involved in a similar exercise in the past where they challenged a poll involving the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union at Omai Gold Company.
Why is NAACIE not cooperating in relation to the poll? Is it afraid that the PU&GWU will win? If it is confident it has over 50% support of the non-management workers then they should not have any problem heading to the poll.
In closing the PU&GWU would like to point out that the International Labour Organization’s Convention No 87, Right to Freedom of Association, that Guyana signed on to also provides for workers to be associated with any union of their choice, so if NAACIE doesn’t want to respect the rights of workers then at least they should respect the Laws of Guyana and international labour conventions to which this country is signatory.
The People United and General Workers Union