Jobs are Labour Ministry’s main target with RUSAL -Min. Hamilton

Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton has said his Ministry’s main objective is securing employment opportunities with the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI)/Russian Aluminium (RUSAL).

During an exclusive interview with DPI, Minister Hamilton disclosed that the Government advised RUSAL to outline a proposal in keeping with the country’s labour laws.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) are currently assessing the proposal to finalise a date for the reopening of the company’s operations in the Berbice River.

Minister Hamilton explained that nearly 600 persons lost their jobs when the bauxite company suspended its operations. The company’s suspension led to its shipping company – Oldendorff Carriers Guyana Incorporated (OCGI) closing its operations.

“The most important issue for us is jobs and employment for workers,” he emphasised.

OCGI will return to operations following the reopening of RUSAL.

The Russian-led company has operated in Guyana since 2004 and has come under scrutiny several times for breaching labour practices.

RUSAL shared an unsteady relationship with the previous APNU+AFC Government and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU), which led to the company’s shutdown and dismissal of 326 workers who were on strike for poor working conditions and outstanding salaries and wages.

The former workers were all in favour of the bauxite company leaving Guyana.

In February, several laid off employees protested their dismissal by placing a barrier across the company’s shipping route for bauxite exports, the Berbice River.

RUSAL’s former employees ended their riverfront protest in August.

RUSAL owns 90 per cent of BCGI, and has a yearly production capacity of 2.3 million tonnes of bauxite. The remaining 10 per cent belongs to the Guyana Government. RUSAL also owns licences to develop the Linden, Kwakwani and Ituni deposit groups.