May 13, 2021 News
– says matter should have been handed over to police
Kaieteur News – The National Mines Workers Union of Guyana (NMWUG) headed by Sherwyn Delano Downer has condemned the recent assault of a Guyanese worker at a mining camp by two Russians over an alleged theft of gold.
The assaulted worker and the Russians are reportedly working for a mining company called Innovative Mining Incorporated that is operating in Region Seven.
NMWUG in a release said that it condemns “without reservations the brutal assault on a local employee by the hands of two Russian officials at Innovative Mining Inc.”
The two Russians have been identified as chief security officer, Viktor Sorokin, and the company’s site manager, Mr. Ryabinichev. The worker who they assaulted has been identified as Charles McDonald, a cook.
Kaieteur News had reported on Sunday that the assault, which was caught on camera, took place on March 30, last.
The video recording of the assault was uploaded to Facebook, a social media platform, on May 8 by an online news entity and it subsequently went viral.
A representative of the mining company had related to this newspaper that McDonald was caught, during a routine inspection, trying to steal 11.9 grams of gold.
With regards to the gold theft, NMWUG stated in its release that instead of assaulting the worker, “they should have handed him over to the police.”
“If there was a criminal offence committed or established by the company, then the police should have been called in to investigate,” Downer noted.
According to Downer, his union has also been in receipt of reports that Innovative Mining Inc. has been treating its workers unfair by not paying their taxes, NIS contributions and overtime wages.
As such, he noted that the union is calling for a thorough investigation into the reports by the Labour Ministry, adding that, “no screws should be left unturned.”
Minister of the Labour, Joseph Hamilton, had told Kaieteur News that he has also been in receipt of reports of labour law breaches at the company and had summoned its officials to a meeting even before the assault video was uploaded.
That meeting was held yesterday and Hamilton related that both the assault of the worker and the labour breaches were raised.
The assault, Hamilton said, is a security issue and the Ministry of Home Affairs will be addressing that. The officials, who represented the company at yesterday’s meeting, are scheduled to have another meeting with Home Affairs Minister, Robeson Benn, soon, this publication was informed.
As it relates to the labour law breaches, Hamilton said that those issues were ironed out. According to the Minister, the Innovative Mining Inc. officials have admitted to not paying workers overtime. “The company pays the workers $8,000 a day and they have to work 12 hours a day. Even on weekends the pay remains at $8,000, no overtime is paid,” explained Hamilton.
Moreover, the Minister said, the company binds its employees to a contractual arrangement which means that they are responsible to pay their own taxes and NIS contributions. In other words, Hamilton said, “it is not paying taxes nor NIS benefits for the employees.”
The Labour Minister called the arrangement “utter nonsense” and noted that it is a clear breach of the country’s labour laws.
Currently, the Minister said, Innovative Mining Inc. is working along with officers of the Labour Ministry who will ensure that it complies with the law.
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