…after injury to 10 workers
The Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GB&GWU) yesterday expressed alarm at last Saturday’s accident on the Mines Road, Kwakwani, which involved 10 bauxite workers attached to the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI/RUSAL).
GB&GWU stated that on the eve of Guyana’s 48th independence, the nation is confronted with another accident by the foreign-managed BCGI/RUSAL.
“This company, which the Government of Guyana has minority shareholding, is once again engaged in unsafe practices in the execution of its mining activities.”
The accident, which occurred on Saturday last involved a minibus transporting bauxite workers on a road that continues to see poor maintenance by the company.
According to the union body, the bauxite company continues to get away with bad corporate practices and disrespect for the Laws of Guyana because the government is uncaring and disrespectful to the category of workers employed.
“The 2012 ruling of the High Court is yet to be respected by the Minister of Labour in the form of reissuing letters to commence compulsory arbitration proceedings…The situation is made worse by an opposition that prefers to turn the other way as sections of this society, its constituents, continue to be violated and abused by the government and BCGI.”
The union lamented that the accident occurred in a company-assigned vehicle on a company roa when workers were being transported in the execution of their duties.
GB&GWU said that the accident is another industrial one resulting from negligence and gross occupational safety and health shortcomings which highlights the risk which BCGI workers face on a daily basis.
“…We are reminded that accidents do not just happen but are themselves a result of failure to observe measures appropriate to their prevention.”
According to the union, Occupational Health and Safety breaches present a threat to labour’s safety and are not matters to be taken lightly nor can it be compromised.
“The safety of workers at the BGCI has been compromised for some time now and all efforts made by the Union to have the Ministry of Labour address these problems have been ignored,” said the union.
“The continued refusal of the Ministry of Labour to act in the interests of BCGI workers to resolve their grievances heightens the belief of this company’s disregard for the laws, workers’ rights, including their safety, has the full support of an uncaring Government.”
The union said that there are many instances that can be cited and used as example the fact that in May 2009, BCGI workers had cause to protest working with malfunctioning vehicles, and 67 workers were suspended.
Industrial action was taken after some workers fell ill, one of whom is now permanently disabled. On 30th June, 2010 there was an accident of similar nature, and two workers lost their lives, 15 were seriously injured and others traumatized. In 2011 a mine at Aroaima caved in, where a worker was covered and lost his life.
The union charged that the number of serious accidents that occurred in BCGI has never been experienced before in the bauxite industry.
“GB&GWU asks in this season of independence how long more, how much more blood has to be shed, injuries sustained, lives lost, families dislocated and workers traumatized before the Government of Guyana holds BCGI accountable to the Laws of Guyana.”
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