….cites stalled wages negotiations
The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) has issued a five-day ultimatum to Oldendorff Carrier that it would proceed on industrial action if the company refuses to come to the bargaining table with an appropriate proposal.
The ultimatum expires on Monday and the notice was duly issued consistent with Article 6:3 of the Collective Labour Agreement, the union announced.
Oldendorff ships bauxite out of Guyana and employs more than 100 Guyanese. In January 2006, Oldendorff Carriers commenced operations in Guyana under an 11-year contract with one of Oldendorff’s long-term customers, RUSAL, via their affiliate Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc.
The contract consists of a one-year period, in which an intermediate transloading solution was in place, and a 10-year period, where the operation forms a complete logistics solution facilitating barging, offshore loading and ocean transportation of around 2.5 million tons of bauxite per annum.
The Union and company have been locked in negotiations for increased wages and improved working conditions for this year, since June.
After the parties failed to reach an agreement, the union wrote to the Ministry of Labour requesting conciliation under its chairmanship.
At the meeting on September 15, Oldendorff informed the union and the Ministry that its presence was one of courtesy since the union has no right to bring the matter before the Ministry. This prompted the Ministry to advise the company that based on the Collective Labour Agreement the union has every right to request conciliation.
On Thursday, the company informed the union that it will not negotiate. The position, the union said, is contrary to the Collective Labour Agreement which explicitly states that wages will be negotiated and a re-commitment to such negotiation given by the company on July 7, the Union said yesterday,
Oldendorff has a track recording of reneging on agreements, exploiting workers and violating labour laws, the Union claimed.
“The company refuses to account to workers on their pay-slips how many hours worked, how many normal hours and overtime hours, and hourly rate of pay. For months the company has refused to comply with the request by the union to record the information on the pay-slips, consistent with the laws. Workers are yet to be paid their bonus for 2009 and the company refuses to discuss the non-payment.”
The Union said that it is concerned with the way foreign companies can set up business in Guyana and think they can disrespect local workers and our labour laws.
“These acts are not only in violation of local laws but also International Labour Conventions that every employer, local and multinational, is bound to obey,” the Union stated.
Meanwhile, the Union said it continues to prosecute the case of the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI) workers.
On Wednesday, the Union’s United Kingdom representative Norman Browne met Luwezi Kinshasa, Secretary-General, African Socialist International (ASI) to brief him on the 11-month old impasse and the discrimination meted out against bauxite workers and their communities.
The impasse was also discussed at the recently held conference of the British Trades Union Congress where solidarity was expressed with the union and workers.
In Guyana, the union continues to hold the Minister of Labour to his June 18 commitment to the Geneva based International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers’ Unions (ICEM) to convene a meeting between itself and BCGI.
GB&GWU has been advised that efforts are being made to facilitate such a process but will not relent until the status quo (normalcy) is returned.
The union said that it remains committed to the workers’ cause and will leave no stone unturned in its pursuit for justice and equality.
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