The workers and the union for the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI) are asking for explanations after a visit by representatives of Chinese-owned Bosai Minerals.
The visit happened on Friday at a number of BCGI mining locations in the Upper Berbice River area, Region Ten.
It came at a time when the Russian-controlled company is facing pressure from all around after accusations of a number of breaches with its investments.
It is also currently locked in a standoff with the 300-plus workers for increased salaries with the matter likely headed for arbitration.
There have been increasing rumours of BCGI, a company owned 90 percent by Rusal, the second largest bauxite company in the world, wanting to leave.
An attempt to sell off hundreds of millions of dollars worth in heavy duty trucks and other equipment have been blocked by the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA), after the pieces landed at a Canje, Berbice location weeks ago.
On Friday, workers disclosed that a number of Bosai vehicles were seen traversing the area.
“They were in the Aroaima area where workers live, and in the mines area in Kurubuka. They management did not tell us anything and we are not sure what is going on,” a workers’ representative told this newspaper.
Bosai is the Chinese-controlled company running the bauxite operations in Linden, Region Ten.
Workers said that they believe something is afoot.
“There is only one reason a competitor of a Russian company – the Chinese– would come to our operations. We have not heard Government say anything and Rusal has not said a thing to us.”
It was the same thing being said by Lincoln Lewis. He is the General Secretary of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU).
“I have received word that Bosai representatives are in the area. In light of this, I am asking the company and Government to tell us what is happening. The workers at least deserve that respect. Is Rusal looking for a buyer? Can they do that? Or should the facilities which belong to the people of Guyana be returned to them for them to decide? There can’t be other arrangements being contemplated by Rusal which we know nothing of.”
Rusal came here in the mid-2000s and took over the bauxite operations in Aroaima. It later opened the Kurubuka mines, located along the Berbice River.
It was handed duty free concessions on fuel, equipment and vehicles and tax holidays.
For that, Guyana has received zero dividends for all the 10-plus years, BCGI declared losses.
The company is also accused of abusing the duty free concessions on fuel and selling same to third parties.
Residents and persons in the area told of being sold electricity with rates as high as those of the state-owned Guyana Power and Light Inc., despite the fuel being duty-free.
Over the years, Rusal/BCGI has been clashing with workers, firing over 50 of them in 2009 after a strike for better conditions.
Earlier this year, the operations shut down for a month after workers demanded more pay.
The workers blocked the Berbice River for weeks before Government stepped in a brokered an uneasy peace.
Recently wage talks broke down with a signal for arbitration.
However, the union and workers said they have not received word on the way forward.
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