Gov’t to meet Rusal workers at Kwakwani

Government will today meet with workers and officials of Russian aluminum firm RUSAL, and German carrier, Oldendorff, at the company’s Kwakwani, Berbice  location to discuss the local implications of United States sanctions against the company’s majority shareholder  Oleg Deripaska.

The meeting comes even as the David Granger-led APNU+AFC government establishes an inter-ministerial and union task force to holistically examine the way forward.

“Financially, we are going to establish a task force comprising the Ministers of Finance, Social Protection, Legal Affairs and Natural Resources to examine all aspects of this matter. The unions will also be invited to be a part of task force,” Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman told Stabroek News yesterday.

He informed that he and the government have been monitoring the situation “on a daily basis and meeting with company officials and unions” and believes that with an October compliance date in effect, there is room for putting measures in place to cushion the effects while reviewing current laws and industrial relations pertaining to the sector.

“The US has extended the compliance period from June 5 to October 23 and there appear to be room for manoeuvre. The US Secretary of the Treasury last evening made statements to the effect that the US was more interested in sanctioning the owner than the company and its workers and US allies and partners who have been indirectly affected,” Trotman said.

“Government remains optimistic that we will avert a disastrous situation and in any event this scare is a wakeup call and provides an opportunity for review of laws and industrial relations,” he added.

The German-based transshipment company used by Rusal for exporting bauxite from Guyana, Oldendorff, last week announced that it is “winding up” its operations here due to United States sanctions against the Russian aluminum producer.

Rusal owns 90% of the Aroaima, Berbice-based Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI). The company’s operations are located on the Berbice River between Kwakwani and Linden, with employees from those areas making up the majority of its workforce.

But the US on Monday gave American customers of Russia’s biggest aluminum producer more time to comply with sanctions, and said it would consider lifting them if United Company Rusal Plc’s major shareholder, Russian tycoon, Deripaska, ceded control of the company.

It would mean that Rusal now has more time to sell off its supply and even if sanctions are not ultimately lifted, buyers also have more time to seek other suppliers, Reuters said yesterday.


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