RUSAL must adhere to OSH, Labour laws upon return – Minister Hamilton

Russian Federation aluminium giant UC RUSAL is expected to make a comeback in Guyana, and Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, MP is adamant that the company will have to adhere to the Occupational Safety and Health regulations and Labour laws of the country.

He was speaking on Wednesday, on the sidelines of a graduation ceremony for Community Service Officers (CSOs).

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, MP

“If RUSAL returns, yes, we will trade with RUSAL as an investor that is the government, and at that time the Ministry of Labour will ensure that RUSAL obey the laws whether it be OSH or labour laws.”

The aluminium company owns 90 per cent of the Guyana Bauxite Company in Linden, Region Ten, along with the licences to develop bauxite fields in Linden, Kwakwani and Ituni. The company also acquired the assets of the Aroaima Mining Company Inc. (AMC), which became the property of Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated.

In 2020, the company suspended all operations in Guyana due to serious illegitimate actions such as abuse of fuel tax concessions and dismissal of employees.

Recently RUSAL’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Evgenii Nikitin surfaced with an announcement of the company’s plan to invest in the upgrade of plants in the Caribbean, marking the return for the year 2023. The company is expected to spend some US$5.2 billion and will divide its assets into two companies within the first half of 2022.

Meanwhile, Minister Hamilton pronounced that the government has other developments on its agenda apart from the return of the aluminium company. 

“Whether RUSAL would return or not is neither here or there. At the level of the government, we are doing other things, we are not pinning our development as a government on one sector and the president has articulated that over and over again.”

As it relates to unresolved issues surrounding RUSAL, the labour minister assured that the issues would be addressed at the appropriate time.

“People have argued that there are some outstanding issues, my position is you don’t have a company there is no outstanding issue, there is nothing t0 do because there are no employees functioning at this entity. Until that happens there is nothing that the ministry of labour can do…when that time comes the government will deal with that matter.”

He said persons in the bauxite region should make good use of the land by means of agriculture and the establishment of products for tourism specific to their culture or region to enhance economic development.