The conflicts surrounding Russian bauxite company RUSAL and its labour issues have not reached such a grave stage that it warrants a cease order. This is according to President David Granger.
He made this assertion during his weekly telecast “The Public Interest” which was aired on Friday.
An official order handed down by a Government agency or court directing a person or entity to stop doing something immediately is called a “cease and desist order.” Such an order effectively places an injunction on the person or entity that prohibits the named activity, labeling it suspicious or illegal.
“I don’t think we need to reach the level of a cease order at this point in time. There are measures which could be put in place by the unions to ensure that the controversies are adjudicated and I do not think those measures have been exhausted at this point in time,” President Granger stated, in response to a question posed by one of the journalists on the panel.
However, he noted that if necessary, the Government would act against the company. “I urge that the Ministry of Social Protection remain engaged with the company, and if necessary, we can result to legal means to ensure workers’ rights are protected,” Granger said.
The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) and RUSAL have had issues following the dismissal and suspension of 57 workers several years back.
Some of the workers’ concerns raised over the years include being compelled to complete tasks without the necessary equipment to do the job; staff working far in excess of five years and receiving no raise in pay; staff reporting sick receiving pay eight hours for a three-day period, but upon resumption money is deducted from their salary; poor ventilation in office areas; and no occupational safety and health representatives or committee, among several other issues.
The bauxite company recently failed to attend a meeting organised by Social Protection Minister Volda Lawrence and Junior Minister Keith Scott to deliberate on the matter.
Recently, the workers union expressed concerns over the company’s move to establish a Workers’ Social Welfare Committee, noting that it is an attempt to isolate employees from the unions.
According to the Union, this Committee would be responsible for addressing workers socio-economic issues” and be its workers’ medium for communication and information flow to and from management.
The Union contended that this move is unacceptable and infringes upon workers’ freedom to subscribe to a union of their choice.
Nonetheless, President Granger holds out that there are measures that can be explored before Government makes any extreme decisions regarding this matter.
RUSAL has been operating in Guyana since 2014. (Guyana Times)