The National Association of Agricultural, Commercial and Industrial Employees (NAACIE) has registered concerns over the fact that the interests and welfare of local bauxite workers are now being increasingly dependent on the priorities of expatriate owners and management.
The union’s position was stated days after the Social Protection Ministry held a high-level meeting with the mining firm, Russia Aluminium (RUSAL), on Thursday last. This meeting had sounded alarms with the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) even saying that it was aimed at securing votes for a particular candidate at last weekend’s Congress of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR).
“NAACIE also notes with trepidation, the sidelining of the legal and constitutional representation of one union in the bauxite sector, the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union seemingly in preference of a company (RUSAL)/Government’s relationship,” a release from the union on Wednesday detailed.
According to NAACIE, such a position is wholly reprehensible as it undermines trade union democracy, whereby, bauxite workers are now shrewdly being denied representation by the Union of their choice.
The release reminded that trade union representation was a constitutional guarantee for citizens and workers of Guyana, according to Article 147 of Guyana’s Constitution. It further noted that this article was a legitimate right which must be embraced by employers, employees and the entire Labour Movement.
“For whilst a Ministry or Department of Labour is there to conciliate on technical matters relevant to non-agreement or statements between employers and unions, never should any Government seek to usurp the status and role of a union elected by workers,” NAACIE posited.
In fact, as one of the unions in the bauxite Industry, representing workers employed by Bosai Guyana, NAACIE said it viewed the infringements by RUSAL with mighty concern.
To this end, the union questioned what would become of Guyana’s emerging oil and gas sector, which would obviously be managed by other expatriates.
“NAACIE views the ongoing saga, whereby RUSAL is refusing to recognise GB&GWU, which is in keeping with the laws of Guyana, with disquiet. It seems to suggest that trade union representation in the burgeoning oil and gas sector will be a non-starter,” the release noted.
According to the union, this is not what the coalition Government promised. NAACIE went on to declare that it supported GB&GWU’s representation for RUSAL workers in keeping with the laws while offering unstinted solidarity.
“All workers of Guyana respect the right to be unionised,” the union posited.
Over the years, workers at Bosai and RUSAL have been crying out against the treatment meted out to them by management of the companies as they advocate for better pay and union representation.