Bauxite workers in the Upper Berbice area, are calling for urgent attention to their working conditions.
While a task force has been announced and headed by the Minister within the Ministry of Natural Resources, Simona Broomes, the deteriorating conditions at the Aroaima and Kurubuka mine sites are continuing.
According to workers, Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI), which is the Russian-owned subsidiary operating the mines, has some 400-plus workers.
Despite a poll and a recognition of a union, the company is refusing t
o deal with it.
“There are so many things wrongs here. We need jobs, but the fact that the people of Guyana own 10 percent of BCGI, appears to mean nothing. Nobody cares about our working conditions and benefits,” said a spokesperson of the group of workers that visited Kaieteur News.
One of the grouses of the workers is the payment of tax-free overtime.
Government had agreed that workers at Rusal would be entitled to that but Rusal said it had remitted the monies already to the Guyana Revenue Authority.
After Government intervened last year, the company made a few payments and then stopped.
“We have Minister Broomes and her senior minister, Raphael Trotman, visit us in April to talk about conditions. We learnt that a task force would be formed. We are hearing little.”
On the mine sites, the workers said that they are being asked to work in very dangerous conditions.
“We have equipment which are enclosed and has no air condition or anything. We have new workers being told that they have to find their own accommodations by the Personnel Department.”
According to workers, the absence of an active union is taking a toll.
“We are human beings too. This administration promised to correct some of the discriminations and pressures were faced but they have done little in three years to improve labour conditions in the bauxite industry. We are pleading for attention,” one of the workers, from East Berbice said.
Workers at the two mine sites come from Linden and East Berbice, especially.
Rusal has been clashing with consecutive governments over labour conditions. Over 50 protesting workers were fired in 2009.
The company has been refusing to budge.
The situation of the Rusal workers has been simmering for a while now and would come with the increased attention that locals are getting from foreign investors.
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