Guyanese workers must be respected and labour laws upheld – Harmon says at RUSAL meeting

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Government representatives meeting with company officials today to find a way forward

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, on Thursday, made it clear that Guyanese workers must be treated in a respectful manner and at all times the country’s labour laws must be upheld at a meeting with the executive members of the Russian Aluminium (RUSAL) company.

According to a Ministry of the Presidency statement, the meeting was aimed at identifying  ways in which the ongoing industrial strike taken by workers and their subsequent dismissal can be resolved amicably.

Minister Harmon was accompanied by Minister of Social Protection, Ms. Amna Ally, Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman and Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection with responsibility for Labour, Mr. Keith Scott.

RUSAL was represented by Mr. Vladimir Permyakov, Company Representative in Guyana and Mr. Sergey Kostyuk, Director of Alumina and Bauxite Department at RUSAL, who both flew in from Russia for the meeting.

During the meeting, Minister Harmon said Government views the ongoing dispute as serious and noted that it was among priority matters on the agenda at the Ministerial Plenary.

“There are two objectives to this: the Guyanese workers must be treated in a respectful and fair manner at all times… their rights must be respected and at the same time, the company must function and ensure it makes profits for its shareholders. It is a question of finding common ground and ensure that our workers’ rights are respected. We must find common ground to move forward. The issues must be dealt with in a clear way,” he said.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Minister Ally said the Government has laid out its contentions while the company was also given the opportunity to do so. The dismissed workers will also be given a chance to have their side heard, she said.

“What is going to happen, tomorrow we are going to have a second round of engagement where Minister Keith Scott, the Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection and the person who deals specifically with Labour, will be meeting with the workers at Aroima tomorrow [Friday] to have some discussions with them. What came out of this morning’s meeting is that after we have laid some of the issues, the executive will be taking this matter to their principals, have a discussion and then get back to us. Meanwhile we are continuing our engagements on the ground with the workers. It is Government’s intention to have this matter resolved amicably,” she said.

In addition to the engagement with the workers, Minister Ally said the Ministry of Social Protection will be providing support to the dismissed workers, particularly in the provision of basic amenities.

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