– Pays locals as little as $500 a day – Solomon
In January 2013, Bai Shan Lin Forest Development Inc. advertised for 700 Guyanese workers.
In advertisements in the media, Bai Shan Lin said that it had vacancies for 220 factory construction workers, 80 skilled chain-saw operators, 80 semi-skilled chain-saw operators, 30 bulldozer operators, 35 loading truck drivers, 60 dump truck drivers, two excavator and grader operators, 60 logging truck drivers, 20 container truck drivers, 10 mechanics, 10 servicemen, 13 cooks and 80 inventory clerks.
However, the company has developed a reputation of mistreating the few Guyanese workers it employs.
Kaieteur News understands that the company generally has a policy to give Asian nationals first preference at employment. From all indications, there are enough Asian nationals residing in Guyana to facilitate the elimination of Guyanese workers on any project the Asians embark upon.
Bai Shan Lin has a known presence at Moblissa, Coomacka, Bamia, Kwakwani and Ituni.
This newspaper has been able to verify that at the Coomacka and Bamia locations, Bai Shan Lin has an employment ratio of 70 Asians to30 Guyanese.
Region Ten Chairman, Sharma Solomon, has confirmed that the workforce is disproportional at these locations.
He said that some workers attached to Bai Shan Lin, have been frequenting the Office of the Regional Democratic Council complaining of the way the company has been violating their rights.
The Chairman said that workers have been lamenting the conditions they work under. They have also been complaining of bad treatment and poor payment.
Solomon said Bai Shan Lin have workers on its payroll who are being paid as little as $500 a day. He said these complaints have been coming mostly from those working at Coomacka and Bamia.
Kaieteur News has been made to understand that the few Guyanese employed by Bai Shan Lin are only allowed certain jobs.
Residents of Kwakwani said that about 90 percent of those driving the company trucks are Asian nationals.
Solomon confirmed this. Asian nationals are being given “permits to use our roads… This needs to be taken seriously, he said. These people don’t qualify, but they are driving heavy duty vehicles on our roads.”
Solomon said that the Asian drivers are not even complying with the rules and regulations of the roads.
He said that Casuarina Drive, Linden, has load restrictions hence Bai Shan Lin’s trucks are not supposed to pass there; but, of course they do.
Solomon went further to explain that the road even had a barrier which was knocked down as Bai Shan Lin’s trucks continue to use it.
The Regional Chairman said that that road is an emergency one as it leads to Mackenzie Hospital. There are also two schools on that very road, one of them a nursery.
In the advertisement for employees, the company said “In order to ensure and accommodate the timely commencement and completion of these projects (wood processing plant etc), meet the demands of the company and to fulfill our promise to utilize (a) local workforce, hence assisting Guyanese people with employment, at present management is in need of approximately 700 Guyanese workers.”
At that time GINA had written that Whenze Chu, Chairman of the China Forest Industry Group Company Ltd, the parent company of Bai Shan Lin Forest Development Inc., has a 40-year involvement in the timber industry and has accumulated rich experience in this field. It said that last November.
China Forest Industry Group Company Ltd is the parent company for several operations across Guyana, including Haimorakabra Logging, Karlam South America Timbers, Wood Associated Industries, Kwebanna Wood Productions, Sherwood Forests, Bai Shan Lin Housing, Construction, Mining Development Inc., and Bai Shan Lin Shipbuilding and Heavy Industries Inc.
When the advertisement was placed, Bai Shan Lin was to start a timber processing plant at Coomacka. That plant operated for a few months before the company aborted that and started logging in the area.
In addition to the numerous containers of logs that Bai Shan Lin ships out the country on a daily basis, freighters loaded with logs are taken out from Kwakwani.
On the journey to Kwakwani, Kaieteur News noticed a number of loaded trucks, carrying Bai Shan Lin’s logo, making their way to Georgetown. Then there were 24 containers of logs waiting to be exported.
Residents of Kwakwani estimated that no less than 30 container trucks pass through the streets of their community daily.
Earlier this year it was found that Bai Shan Lin did not have the statutory regulatory blessings of Lands and Surveys, Geology and Mines or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Kaieteur News confirmed that the EPA has not given Bai Shan Lin permission to operate in the Berbice River. This is the same river that runs through Kwakwani.
Bai Shan Lin operates a forestry concession that amounts to close to one million hectares of rainforest, from which it extracts logs and ships them out of Guyana.
These included concessions owned by other companies but which are being used by the Chinese company.
The company estimates that it will make US$1,800 from each hectare of land, giving it profits totaling US$1.7 billion, according to redd-monitor.org.
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