RUSAL suspends operations; informs Labour Ministry 326 workers sent home

RUSAL, the Russian-owned bauxite company, announced that they have sacked more than 300 Guyanese, bringing the total to a whopping 614 workers left without a job. The company has also pulled its expatriate employees and suspended local operations in the Berbice River.

RUSAL representative Vladimir Permyakov (left), Social Protection Minister Amna Ally (Centre), Minister Keith Scott (second right) and Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle (Right) at the meeting

The company in a statement issued yesterday, cited “industrial unrest, including arson and other destruction of corporate property, and blocking of the river” as the main factors for the suspension.     

“Written notices of termination have been sent to 326 employees. As the unrest impacting the Company’s operations continues, RUSAL believes the opportunities for doing further business in Guyana are now severely limited,” the company said in their statement.

The rash move, however, did not sit well with the Social Protection Ministers Amna Ally and Keith Scott, along with the Chief Labour Officer Charles Ogle who met with the Russian heads, yesterday.

The meeting reportedly lasted for more than two hours but ended in a stalemate with the company offering no solutions and announcing that operations have been suspended. Another meeting is scheduled for Friday between the Chief Labour Officer and RUSAL heads.

The company had initially laid off of 142 workers due to claims of a shortage of fuel. In retaliation, the workers blocked the Berbice River to hinder the flow of traffic to and from the Company’s mining operations at Kurubuka Mines.

A few pieces of the equipment that Rusal brought out a few months ago, parked at a New Amsterdam location.

RUSAL claimed that the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) had refused to grant duty free concessions on importing their fuel but this allegation was quickly refused by the GRA head, Godfrey Statia, who disclosed that they had granted the concessions.

“There was no intention of them having reconciliation or for us to come to any consensus because they find a way of justifying everything that is posed to them,” Minister Amna Ally told the media after the meeting.

According to her, RUSAL “does not care about the workers. They just care about themselves.”

Minister Keith Scott, during the meeting, lambasted the RUSAL officials for their move to terminate the services of the workers without informing the department or the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union.

“You come here this morning and say that over 300 workers gone home but there’s no notice to the departments.”
To this, RUSAL’s representative, Vladimir Permyakov, explained that the ‘situation was an emergency’. That answer was not accepted by the Ministers who argued that the requisite notice should have been given before the terminations.

Minister Scott demanded that the sacked workers be rehired with immediate effect but this demand fell on deaf ears.

No respect for Guyana’s Laws
The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union once again expressed that RUSAL has no regard for Guyana’s laws as in seen in the move to sack the workers without informing them or the Labour Ministry.

The union, in a statement, said that “management is deliberately escalating its contempt for the Government of Guyana, the Laws of Guyana, the institutions and workers/citizens of Guyana.”

“If this disrespect for Guyana and Guyanese is not addressed in a forthright manner, we are in for serious challenges. Unlike Venezuela who from afar is making claim to our territory, the Russians (RUSAL) who have been welcomed here to do business have decided they are going to do it their way not ours. We have welcomed them into our home and they are seeking to trample us.”

Attempts blocked
Kaieteur News was informed that RUSAL had attempted to ship out some of their equipment last week, but the move was blocked by the Guyana Revenue Authority.

According to reports received, equipment was seen leaving on a pontoon from the Kurubuka Mines area headed to East Canje. But GRA’s Commissioner General Godfrey Statia explained that a blanket order was enforced, which hampered the company’s attempt.

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  • brandli62  On February 5, 2020 at 5:09 am

    It’s time to enforce the rule of law in Guyana. I hope there is a solution for the bauxite workers that will be without wages for the coming weeks.

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