Ministry of Social Protection Enforce Tax Free Overtime Wages to Workers of RUSAL 

On the morning of the Thursday 16th November, 2017 the Ministry of Social Protection convened a historic meeting with the Management of the Russian Based Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI), (RUSAL) and the executive of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers’ Union (GB and GWU).

The only two items on the agenda of the meeting were:

  • The status of the relationship between the parties and,
  • The withholding of Income Tax deducted from the Overtime Wages of the workers.

During the meeting it was firmly established that the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers’ Union was the recognised majority union chosen by the workers to represent them.

As a consequence, the Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection the Hon. Mr. Keith Scott requested that the management of RUSAL sign a Memorandum of Understanding among the Government of Guyana, the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers’ Union and the RUSAL which provides for the payment of Tax Free Overtime Wages to the workers. Unfortunately, the RUSAL elected not to sign due to the fact that its Managing Director was out of the country and not present at the meeting.

The Memorandum had already been signed by the Government of Guyana and Guyana Bauxite and General Workers’ Union, but the RUSAL had hitherto refused to affix its signature to the document on the ground that by so doing, tacit recognition would have been given to the union-a situation which they wanted to avoid. The victory of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers’ Union at recent poll for recognition effectively removed any impediment to the signing. Yet the RUSAL attempted to further delay the implementation of the year-long payout package by declining to sign the Memorandum of Understanding.

With the Russians not signing the Memorandum of Understanding the Honourable Minister issued an Order for the release of all income tax which were withheld by the Company from the Overtime wages of the workers since October 1st, 2016 to be paid to the workers by the end of November 2017.

The RUSAL promised to comply with the order while the union promised to engage the management on the way forward for the formalisation of a comprehensive Collective Labour Agreement.

The meeting concluded amicably with the two parties expressing mutual respect and hopes for a much better relationship from here on.