By Enid Joaquin
Workers attached to Bosai Minerals’ Mines Division yesterday downed tools and trekked approximately twelve miles to the Company’s North gate, outside the Bauxite plant in Linden, where they protested Management’s denial of an increase in their wages and salaries.
According to the workers, Bosai, instead of granting them an increase on the 6.5 percent as they had proposed, has made an offer of a mere 6 percent for this year.
The disgruntled workers, carried placards declaring, “9% Up…Six is Licks!” among other things.
Whitney Graham, Chairman of National Association of Agricultural and Commercial Industrial Employees (NAACIE), which represents the workers, told Kaieteur News, “Right now, we have a situation with the workers. We are on strike, as we were negotiating with the Company, for wages and benefits. But the proposal they are putting forward, we are not in agreement with.
Every year we’ve been given targets and we have been achieving those targets, so it is only fair that Bosai pay what we’re asking”.
According to Graham, workers are seeking an increase on the 6.5 percent they have been receiving on their salaries over the past four years. However, instead, Bosai is proposing to cut that amount to 6 percent this year. The aggrieved workers are adamant that this is unacceptable.
Apart from that, the workers are also seeking an increase on their “night premiums”, which sees them receiving forty dollars per hour.
“We need an increase, because the night shift ain’t easy, and presently we only getting forty dollars an hour! We asked them for $100, but they (Management) saying that they can’t pay that!”
Workers are also voicing concerns over several youths that are being employed by Bosai, over a prolonged period, on a casual basis.
Eric Ettienne, a former employee of the Company, expressed concern over what he called “a using situation” where many youths are employed on a casual basis for five years and more, and paid “paltry salaries”.
“These Chinese find a way to use these workers…four, five years as apprentices and casual workers, because in that way, they get away with paying them next to nothing!”
According to Ettienne, workers are only supposed to work three months’ probation, before gaining permanent employment. He said that the prolonged casual employment, is engineered to deny the youths their rightful benefits, and to also use them to fill gaps, whenever permanent employees take strike action. He is asking that these and other matters be looked into by the Ministry of Labour.
Meanwhile, the employees have vowed to continue their strike action until their demands are met.
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