Feb 05, 2012 Letters
This year marks three years and December last three Christmases since the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI) has without reason dismissed a number of workers and refused to negotiate with their Union consistent with the Trade Union Recognition and Certification Law. This is a matter that speaks to the core of transgressing the rights of workers, violating the laws of our land, and threatening our sovereignty as a nation, none of which is good for us as a people.
The company continued refusal to negotiate with the Union can only be brought to an end if the Government, as custodian of the Labour Laws, sees to it with the committed involvement of the Ministry of Labour with the support of the Opposition who too should have an interest in ensuring the laws are upheld. Three years is much too long for persons to be unemployed, for justice not to be served, for parents having to look into the sad eyes of their children and tell them they cannot afford to provide them with the basic amenities of life. Many have gone to bed hungry not knowing where the next meal will come from or how the next bill will be paid. This is injustice and deprivation never before seen in independent Guyana and the bauxite workers and their communities desire an end be brought to it, now.
This issue has attracted the attention of the previous Minister of Labour and the 9thParliament and on every occasion it became clear both the Government dominated Parliament and previous Minister of Labour were comfortable in allowing BCGI to violate the Laws of Guyana, trample the citizens’ rights with the Minister’s refusal to activate the Laws to put in place Arbitration to bring about a resolution.
There is a now a new Minister of Labour who has under his belt years of trade union experience, acquainted with the International Labour Conventions, understands the Labour laws and knows the importance of a respected workforce to production and prosperity for workers, employer and society as a whole. He has been in the trenches and the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union looks forward to him restoring dignity and respect to workers by seeing to it that the laws are honoured, and in the instance of the BCGI matter bringing same to resolution soonest, since justice delayed is justice denied.
Bauxite workers need this matter resolve and while the Minister has had engagement with the Union and we are told similar engagement being conducted between the Ministry and BCGI, the time has come for the Ministry of Labour to commence putting in place Arbitration proceedings consistent with the law to address the following:
a) The incomplete2009-2010 Wages/Salaries negotiation.
b) Investigation into the dismissal of the fifty seven (57) workers in December, 2009.
c) Investigation into the circumstances that led to the accident in June, 2010.
d) Investigate the suspension of sixty seven (67) workers in May, 2009 for refusing to work defective mining equipment.
e) Investigate the dismissal of five (5) workers for protesting the preparation of meals with ration that was rat and roach infested.
The resolution to the BCGI matter has attracted the attention of the 9th Parliament wherein the Opposition brought a motion which was thrown out with the government using its majority. Since this matter has not been resolved the Opposition has a responsibility to continue pursuing it at the political level.
The workers await justice.
General Secretary (ag), GB&GWU
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