Nov 15, 2019 News
Government has not officially received notification from Russian-owned Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) that it is pulling out. The company,
however, has started dismantling and moving heavy equipment including trucks and excavators from the Kurubuka site, Upper Berbice River, Region 10.
According to persons familiar with the situation, the company has been talking with potential buyers of the equipment.
Much of the equipment is parked in Region Five with work being done to dismantle others in the Berbice River mine area.
Yesterday, Director-General, Joseph Harmon, during the post-Cabinet press briefings at the Ministry of the Presidency, was questioned about the situation which has the 300-plus workers deeply concerned.
According to Harmon, the Ministry of Social Protection (which has the portfolio of labour) and the Ministry of Natural Resources, have been looking at the situation.
The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers’ Union has been in a stalemate with the company for an increase in wages and salary.
Government mediation talks have stalled, with the union calling for arbitration.
Yesterday, Harmon made it clear that the welfare of Guyanese workers is of paramount importance.
He said it is government’s responsibility to ensure that foreign companies are provided the environment to workers and invest and make money.
In addition to the two ministries, the Guyana Revenue Authority has been making checks to ensure that the company does not sell off its equipment.
Since the company came here in the mid-2000s, BCGI has been granted billions in duty-free and fuel concessions and tax holidays. The selling of the equipment would see GRA losing hundreds of millions in taxes.
One of the biggest bauxite companies in the world, Rusal has established a poor track record with workers, firing more than 50 of them in 2009 after strike for better conditions. That matter was never resolved.
Earlier this month, in another dispute, workers refused to work for one month, holing out in Aroaima, another location in Region 10, before Government brokered an uneasy deal for resumption of work.
The condition was that talks would start for better pay.
Since coming here, the Russian company has failed to declare a profit but has been shipping out bauxite without fail.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman, had indicated that he is preparing to meet with the workers who have written him, complaining of the uncertainties.
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