Mar 20, 2019 News
Loggers from Berbice are reportedly stranded in the Berbice River following actions by Russian Company, RUSAL. The workers blocked the waters nearly three weeks ago.
The situation which has attracted the attention of Region Six Chairman, David Armogan, has caused him to seek the
intervention of the Minister of Natural Resources Raphael Trotman. However, that was not as fruitful as he would have wished it to be.
Armogan said that when he made contact with Trotman he was told that he ‘hopes’ that the matter will be resolved during the course of the week. Indeed, there seems to be a resolution.
According to reports agreement was reached yesterday.
The Chairman stressed that although he sympathizes and empathizes with the RUSAL workers, the logging industry is affected and causing a ripple effect, pushing sawmills and lumber yards to close and even lay off workers.
“We have a lot of logging industry in the region and a lot of our loggers are from the Berbice River, so right now most of the sawmills are closed within this area.
“Lumber is in short supply because of the fact that logs cannot come down from the river,” he disclosed. He added that despite the current situation, blocking the river and preventing others from conducting business is unfair and will not be condoned by him.
According to Armogan, all sawmills operating from the Berbice River (Amarally Sawmill, Basdeo Sawmill, etc), along with persons cutting and transporting the chainsaw wood, are affected.
“They are all in trouble and besides that people went up there, hoping to come down at a certain point and they are all left there. The fellas are there for three weeks now, they only took up ration to last them for about a week but nobody cares,” he said.
The situation, the chairman said, is also affecting many businesses in the communities with carpenters not being employed because the lumber is not available. He surmised that such a situation will affect the people directly involved in the construction sector in Berbice since the wood is not available. “They will wait till the lumber is available.”
It was after Armogan was made aware of the issue that he stated that he contacted Minister Trotman and was told that he is “hoping it will be resolved during the course of the week”.
But this, he said, is unacceptable from a Minister.
“As Minister, he is ‘hoping’ that it will be resolved. Meanwhile people are punishing and you know sawmills are sending home workers. So if they are sending home workers it means that more people in the area again are going out of employment so the government needs to really comment on the situation and intervene,” he exclaimed.
Recalling when sugar estates were closed, Armogan said that if they had asked the nearly 5000 workers to take to the streets and block off roads, “the government then would have brought in the army and the police to remove those workers but I don’t know for what reason they are not doing anything in this case”. He argued that the government serves as an intermediary between workers and the company, RUSAL, and as such should have been capable enough to solve the issue by now, “unfortunately again, the government has been chucking their responsibility to certain sections of the business community”.
Disgruntled workers of the bauxite company blocked the Berbice River some three weeks ago preventing the company from transporting its bauxite. Those actions followed on the heels of a strike that took effect on February 15, last, after the imposition of a unilateral one per cent increase in wages by RUSAL.
Ninety workers were fired from the company. The workers responded by blocking the river with oil barrels and jars strung together on a rope across the river, preventing passage in and out of that area.
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