Oldendorff and labour department working together on workers benefits
- Oldendorff pledges to honour all commitments to employees
- Regrets the possibility of having to leave Guyana
New Amsterdam, Berbice, Guyana, Thursday, June 29, 2018
Oldendorff Carriers (Guyana) Inc., yesterday handed over details of all employees currently employed in the company’s operations in the Berbice River. The presentation was made to the Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle, at the Department of Labour by Ulf Henriksson, General Manager of OCGI.
RUSAL, the parent company of Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) has been sanctioned by the US Government. BCGI’s operations are in Region 10. OLDENDORFF is contracted by BCGI to transport bauxite from the mine areas near Aroima to load on ships at the mouth of the Berbice River. The US Government Sanctions require that all companies doing business with those that have been sanctioned wind down operations by October 23, or they themselves will be sanctioned.
While there are international negotiations taking place in an attempt to get the US Government to withdraw the current sanctions, OLDENDORFF is compelled to make preparations for winding down should such efforts fail. As a result, the company has begun to sensitize workers to the possibility that it will not be able to continue operations in Guyana.
The employment information was requested by the Department of Labour in order to determine the benefits accrued to the employees should the company be forced to wind-down operations in Guyana. The information is also expected to support the work of a cabinet appointed task force, set up to address the future of workers at RUSAL and related companies in light of USA-imposed sanctions. BCGI is OLDENDORFF’s only client in Guyana.
The current situation stems from sanctions imposed on April 6, by the US Government, on Russia, by adding seven Russian oligarchs and 12 companies they own or control, among others, to what is called the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (“SDN”). Such sanctions apply to entities that are directly or indirectly owned 50 percent or more by these or other SDNs.
OLDENDORFF has been operating successfully in Guyana for 12 years and had every intention of continuing operations until being forced to face closure of the operations here because of the US Government sanctions.
During the 12 years, the company has employed and trained more than 250 persons from the Berbice area, most of whom still work for the company today. These employees have performed at the highest industry standards and contributed significantly to the performance efficiencies of the OLDENDORFF operation here.
Speaking yesterday when handing over the documents to the Chief Labour Officer, Ulf Henriksson, General Manager of OCGI said that “OLDENDORFF management in Guyana and their parent company in Germany are promising to ensure that, should the company have to exit Guyana, the workers would be given proper notice. Our employees can rest assured that we will adhere to the laws of Guyana and they will receive what they are entitled to.”
Today, on the heels of yesterday’s handing over of the employee information, a team from the Department of Labour Occupational Safety and Health visited OLDENDORFF’s headquarters in New Amsterdam, Berbice.
The team, led by Senior Labour Officer Dexter Semple, conducted an inspection of the company’s records and working conditions. Semple also took the opportunity to speak directly with workers who assembled at the New Amsterdam Stelling. Workers had a free exchange with the Labour Officer and registered concerns for follow up.
OLDENDORFF suspended operations for two hours to allow the workers to attend the meeting. At the end of the meeting OLDENDORFF managers presented each of the 115 employees gathered at the stelling with letters that provided information on the company’s response to the sanctions and the efforts that are being taken in the workers interest.
Company executives promised to provide further updates as more information becomes available.