Nov 16, 2010 News Comments Off on Bauxite workers refuse to eat food from ‘Cockroach’ kitchen
… Four fired over complaints
Four workers have been fired by the Bauxite Company of Guyana, after they were blamed for instigating the staff not to work after it was uncovered that a cockroach infestation and other concerns in the camp kitchen threatened the health of the workers.
The Bauxite Company of Guyana is the local subsidiary of Russian Aluminium giant, Rusal.
The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union is expected to lodge a protest with the Ministry of Labour over the dismissal of the workers, General Secretary Lincoln Lewis said yesterday. Concerns were raised by the employees at the company’s Aroaima operations in the Berbice River about the poor preparation and presentation of food.
Some employees complained of feeling ill after consuming food prepared by the Camp kitchen. An estimated 300 workers are attached to the company’s operations.
An investigation was reportedly done by the employees and they allegedly found unhealthy conditions existing in the kitchen.
Employees claimed that they had lost all confidence in the kitchen staff and they refused to consume food prepared. As a result, concerns were raised with the Personnel Manager and the Safety and Health Department.
According to documents seen by Kaieteur News, an investigation by these departments revealed that storage conditions were very poor and that there was evidence of a cockroach infestation.
It was also found that rotten vegetables were among the good vegetables.
It was found that food boxes, cups and other items were tossed carelessly on the floor and that cockroaches and their droppings were seen on these items.
There was also evidence that the bags storing rice, flour, sugar, salt, channa, peas and other items were opened and cockroaches were crawling out of these bags.
The investigation also revealed that expired items were found in the storage. These items included Nescafe coffee and Mello Cream margarine.
According to the report of the investigation, the freezers storing meat are in poor condition and cooked food was stored along with raw meat in the refrigerators.
In the area where food was being prepared, the garbage bin was uncovered and overflowing. Management of the kitchen was given until last Thursday to correct the problem.
The four employees were dismissed on the very day that the food contractor was asked to rectify the problems.
In the dismissal letter to employees, Ruslan Volokhov, the Deputy General Manager said that management had taken immediate action to investigate the claim about the poor quality of meals and management had visited the camp along with residents.
According to Volokhov, later in the afternoon of November 8 – the day the workers protested against the quality of meals being provided – a demand was made for fresh meals to be prepared under independent caterers, using fresh meat and other ingredients.
“Notwithstanding all the arrangements put in place of which you had full knowledge, you instigated the workers not to work, resulting in production loss to the company,” Volokhov said in his letter to the employees.
They were told that management views their action as being inimical to the best interest of the company.
The four workers were dismissed with immediate effect at the end of their shift last Thursday.
The sacking of the employees is the latest concern the Bauxite Workers Union has with Rusal.
General Secretary Lewis claims that the workers were simply told to remain after work and were handed their dismissal letters, without any discussion about their benefits.
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