GEORGETOWN, Guyana, July 13, (CMC) – The Guyana government says it will not condone any local or foreign company breaching local laws, nor will it interfere with the workings of trade unions here.
Minister within the Ministry Social Protection, Keith Scott, gave the assurance, as he met with executives of Russian-owned Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI).
Scott, who has responsibility for the labour department, said that his meetings with the stakeholders are to ensure that both local and overseas companies understand the Constitution of Guyana and respect the labour laws.
The meeting comes against the background of an ongoing dispute between the bauxite company and unions, dating back to 2009.
“We had a very frank and open discussion with each other. The team put the cards on the table and they have some concerns with the ongoing dispute…but what we did, we put aside those areas that are very contentious and emotional and we discussed the principles in terms of respecting the Constitution of Guyana, the laws of Guyana and the trade union recognition that exists,” Scott noted.
He said that the Russian-owned company has indicated its willingness to facilitate trade unions.
“RUSAL has agreed to respect the laws of Guyana and to engage with the unions. They have also said that at no point since we have been meeting, have they had correspondence from any union, but they are open to responding to any unions. They are also not against meeting with the unions to have negotiations on the way forward,” he added.
Scott said that while the company is cooperating with the government of Guyana, it is important that RUSAL understands that trade unions are recognised in Guyana, and that the constitution allows for persons to have the right to assemble and to be represented by a trade union body.
In 2009, RUSAL dismissed 57 workers who were engaged in strike action for increased wages and improved working conditions. The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) has criticised the action, and Scott has since met with union and company officials in a bid to facilitate amicable discussions between them.