RUSAL “no longer untouchable” – Min. Scott

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– unions more respected

– working conditions will be improved for RUSAL workers

by Ayana George

DPI, Guyana, Tuesday, June 4, 2019

The Ministry of Social Protection’s Department of Labour has made many strides to combat industrial matters within the ten administrative regions.

Minister within the ministry, with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott said the achievements of the Labour Department are now more visible, citing the recent Russian Bauxite Company (RUSAL) matter.

“In the past, there was no proper representation for the workers, no union was respected or was given the opportunity to visit the RUSAL Bauxite site and further, no union could have recused or prevented any discrimination on the workers at the level of Industrial Relations or Occupational Safety and Health,” Minister Scott reasoned.

He recounted that after several discussions, a visit was made to the RUSAL site, where Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence, discovered that the workers were housed under unsafe and deplorable conditions. Following that visit, systems were immediately put in place to improve the working conditions there.

Efforts are still currently being made to ensure workers operate in favourable conditions, Minister Scott assured.

“We are pleased that matters were rectified and even inherited a case where 57 workers were dismissed, and nothing was being done about it, but under the APNU+AFC Government, we called in the employer, the union and decided that action must be taken,” Minister Scott informed.

The minister added that during the RUSAL dilemma, his department took the responsibility to sensitise the company to the country’s Labour laws and the role of the Guyana Labour Union (GLU).

With the government’s intervention, RUSAL agreed to recognise the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) and the two parties had their first bilateral meeting in March.

Image: Marceano Narine