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Guyana Trades Union Congress Urges United Front Against Rusal-Owned Bauxite Company

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, February 21, 2019 (CMC) – The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has blamed successive governments for the treatment being handed out to workers at the Rusal-owned Bauxite Company of Guyana, who have been on strike, since last weekend, over salary increases.

The GTUC said that both the current coalition government and the former People’s Progressive Party (PPP) administrations must accept and share responsibility for the way the Russian-owned and managed Bauxite Company of Guyana continues to treat local workers.

The strike started, as a result of the company’s one percent salary increase offer, which the workers protested, calling for more.

But a representative of the Rusal management team, Vladimir Permyakov, told reporters that the company, over the years, has offered 16 percent salary increases, even though its operations here were not profitable.

He also said that it was too early for the company to say whether the termination letters, sent to 60 of the striking workers, would be rescinded.

In its strongly-worded statement, GTUC, the umbrella trade union body, here, said, over the years, successive political administrations “have sat on their hands, continually, indifferent to the various and repeated instances”, in which the company management trampled on the rights of the workers.

It said that the struggle to push back against the “tyranny” of the Rusal managers at the bauxite company is not a partisan political struggle, but a struggle for the dignity and sovereignty of Guyana against an oppressor.

“Accordingly, and whatever political differences might obtain at this time, the company’s Russian management and Rusal, as a whole, must be left under no illusions, regarding the unified nature of our struggle to bring an end to this tyranny,” the GTUC said.

The umbrella union body wants a robust and unambiguous public statement, from both the Guyana government and the Opposition, condemning the dismissal of the striking workers and calling on the management of the company to respect the laws of Guyana, with regard to trade union membership and the rights and entitlements of workers.

Additionally, it wants an immediate meeting, between the government and the management of the bauxite company, to follow through on details, surrounding their public call and the re-establishment of clear guidelines and understanding of Rusal’s  need for compliance, with all of Guyana’s industrial laws and practices.

The GTUC said there must be the unconditional reinstatement of the dismissed workers, and the company must respect the workers’ recognised Union of choice.

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