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|Labour Minister invokes arbitration proceeding for BCGI and GB&GWU|
|Sunday, 04 March 2012 21:48|
THE Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU), in a statement last evening, welcomed the decision of the Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, who saw it fit to exercise the discretion granted by virtue of Section 4 (1) (c) of the Labour Act Cap. 98:01, to invoke arbitration, with the following terms of reference:-
“To enquire into the difference between the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union and the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI-RUSAL), specifically to determine whether the company and or the union has indulged in prudent industrial/labour relations practices and whether or not they have complied with all known labour and industrial relations laws and conventions as they relate to:
1. The wages dispute between the Company and the Union with respect to the period January 1, 2009 to December 31, 2010, which resulted from the application of Term # 7 of the terms of Resumption signed between the Company and the Union on August 25, 2009
2. The dispute which led to the suspension of sixty seven workers who protested unsafe working condition at the Company’s operation during the period May 2009.
3. The dispute between the Company and the Union with respect to the dismissal of fifty seven employees from the Company during the period December 1-10, 2009.
4. The dispute between the Company and the Union with respect to the dismissal of five employees, namely Winsworth Blair, Elmiton Mc Almont, Laurel George, Marcel Odonoghu and Lennox Daw, who were in protest over conditions of storage of food material in areas allegedly infested with rodents and roaches, and the use of the said food materials in the kitchen to prepare meals for staff at the Aroaima Location.
5. The allegedly threatening of workers by the General Manager of BCGI, Mr. Ruslan Volokhov on May 8, 2011, who were protesting the non-availability of potable water at the camp site in Aroaima.”
The statement said, “Both the union and company were informed of the Minister’s decision via letter dated February 29, 2012, outlining the above.
Conventions and laws are put in place to protect the weak from being exploited by the strong, mighty and lawless, and this is seen in the case of BCGI, as it treats with the employees and their union, and their total disregard for laws, customs and practices within the Guyanese society.
“The decision of the minister has to be seen as testimony to the workers resilience that anything worth having is worth fighting for.
“This new development coming after a valiant two and a half year struggle is benefit derived by the workers militancy and fight for their right to Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining as enshrined in the ILO Conventions and the Laws of Guyana. These were and will remain the instruments guiding the struggle.
“This struggle is far from over. The minister's decision begins another phase and the GB&GWU awaits the announcement of the Arbitrator(s) and modalities being put in place to begin the process. GB&GWU will push for this to be achieved soonest, since justice delayed is justice denied.
“Throughout the dark period, the solidarity of local sister unions and organisations, the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organisations (AFL-CIO) regional and international unions and organisations, UK based Labour Start, political parties, the workers’ loved one, media, non-Guyanese and Guyanese from all walks of life, kept us encouraged. The union remains deeply appreciative for the part persons played and continue to play for justice and fair play.
“This was not only a struggle for bauxite workers; it was a struggle for Guyana and every Guyanese, because BCGI/RUSAL’s behaviours threaten our laws, the citizens’ rights, and the nation’s sovereignty.
“Though the battle has been long, grueling and with still more distance to cover, the union remains confident bauxite workers shall overcome.
“For there shall be no relenting or retreating until the named matters are resolved, the country’s laws upheld, and the rights of every worker respected,” the statement concluded.
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