Labour Ministry deems GGMC strike illegal, unethical

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GGMC Protest[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security has deemed as ‘illegal’, ‘unethical’ and ‘improper’ the current strike action at the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC).

Chief Labour Occupational Safety and Health Officer, Charles Ogle in a strongly worded letter to Deborah Murphy, General Secretary (ag), Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), declared that the ministry “concluded that the current (GGMC’s) industrial action may not be in accord with known and acceptable principles of good labour-management relations.”

Ogle explained that at a meeting, under his chairmanship, on January 9, 2015, when the current strike action was discussed, the union was urged to take immediate steps to have the said strike called off.

However, the union’s response to the pleadings of the ministry was that the strike would not be called off unless a favourable offer was made by the management of the GGMC to the Union.

Ogle explained that the purpose of this meeting was to possibly pave the way for a return of normalcy in negotiations, between the management of the Commission and union management relations.

He offered that this was the way to go as the “ … extant Collective Labour Agreement provides, inter alia, that after a joint meeting/conference, as provided for in Clause 7 thereof, an unresolved dispute may be referred to conciliation for possible resolution. Failing resolution at conciliation, provision is made for a referral to arbitration.”

In this regard, he firmly highlighted the breach as his “… Ministry is not in receipt of any such application, which for all intent and purpose, must preface any contemplated industrial action.

“As a matter of fact, I do believe that Clause 12 of the aforementioned extant Collective Labour Agreement prohibits withdrawal of labour, during the negotiation process, which prohibition was disregarded.”

Ogle, in his missive, noted that upon examination of all the facts and details known, the union’s decision to take strike action, effective January 6, 2015, may be in breach of the extant Collective Labour Agreement and would therefore be illegal.

In this regard, he sought to impress upon Ms. Murphy to take all possible steps, to bring the strike action to an immediate end.

Ogle added that the Ministry of Labour, Human Services & Social Security, in the process thus far, received copies of correspondences between GGMC and the union, and that these were carefully perused. The conclusion thus emanating is that the “… extant Collective Labour Agreement, subsisting between the union and the GGMC, along with certain media reports, attributed to representatives/agents of the union, the current industrial action, may not be in accord with known and acceptable principles of good labour-management relations.”

Taking into consideration the circumstances thus far developed, he requested that the union take the necessary steps, to ensure that the strike be called off “… with immediate effect, thereby paving the way for a return of normalcy in negotiations, the management of the Commission, and union management relations.” [Extracted and modified from GINA]

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