As workers of the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission continue their strike action for improved working conditions and better salaries, the Ministry of Labour has fired off at the workers and has declared the strike action as ‘illegal’, ‘unethical’ and ‘improper’.
In a letter to the General Secretary of the Guyana Public Service Union Ms. Deborah Murphy, the Chief Labour, Occupational Safety and Health Officer, Charles Ogle, declared that the ministry has “concluded that the current (GGMC’s) industrial action, may not be in accord with known and acceptable principles of good labour-management relations.”
According to the Government Information Agency, the ministry’s response is in relation to a dispute and a strike action, which were initiated by the GGMC’s workers’ union, on 6th January, 2015.
In the letter, Ogle explained that at a meeting 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.
But the union made it clear at the meeting that the strike would not be called off unless a favourable offer was made by the management of the GGMC to the Union.
GINA said the Chief Labour Officer explained that the purpose of the 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”, the GINA release noted.
The Chief Labour Officer is now convinced 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.
The Labour Ministry said that taking into consideration the circumstances thus far developed, the union should 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.”
Workers of the Geology and Mines Commission have said they do not intend to call off the strike action until an acceptable offer is made. They explained that when they initially started their protest action back in November, it was called off to allow negotiations. Those negotiations were not fruitful and the GGMC is yet to put forward an offer that they would accept.
Filed: 13th January 2015