The coalition Government has established a task force to ensure workers of the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) are not adversely affected by recent sanctions affecting parent company Russia Aluminum (Rusal).
Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman on Wednesday visited Rusal (Guyana operations), located in Kwakwani, Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice) to deliver the assurances first-hand to workers. Rusal Guyana is a majority shareholder in BCGI and a subsidiary of Rusal.
“We are here to assure you that we are not going to see your jobs just go aside. We are going to be fighting,” Minister Trotman told workers. He announced that a task force headed by Minister within the Natural Resources Ministry, Simona Broomes, will be leading this effort.
A proposal was made to Cabinet on Tuesday to establish the task force which would address the “crisis that could come” and address general company workers’ relations.
Last week, the United States Treasury Department announced sanctions against Rusal which would effectively ban the company from conducting business in American currency. The sanctions were to take effect in June but this week the Treasury Department announced it is pushing back the deadline to October 23, 2018, to give American companies time to wind down business with Rusal.
The task force is a cautionary measure and includes Finance Minister Winston Jordan, Members of Parliament Jermaine Figueira and Audwin Rutherford, General Secretary of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) Lincoln Lewis, and the Department of Labour.
“Rusal, the company, the management and its workers have to find a way to work together to save this industry. The Government of Guyana has a duty to stand and work with you to save your jobs,” Minister Trotman said.
GBGWU’s General Secretary, Lewis, echoed the Minister’s sentiments and called for collaboration between workers and the company to further the task force’s work. “It is for you to give the Government the mandate as to the way forward. The Government representatives … have made the point that the Government is not prepared to leave you in the wilderness but to stand with you,” he said.
Managing Director of BCGI, Valerii Vinokurov, explained that the mining operations had halted operations following the announcement of the sanctions. Rusal Guyana will now resume work after being stalled for some 10 days. He added that contractor, Oldendorff Carriers, will also continue its work with the company.
Additionally, BCGI is working with the Bank of Guyana to open accounts in Euro currency to continue operations, “I want to assure you there is nothing to be afraid of. Rusal company is not going anywhere, we will continue to work and produce here in Guyana,” Vinokurov assured through a translator.