Officials representing the Russian management team of the Bauxite Company of Guyana met with the Chief Labour Officer and other Labour officials today over the company’s termination of contracts for 61 workers who went on strike action last Friday.
The meeting lasted for just over two hours and at the end of it, a representative of the Rusal management team, Vladimir Permyakov, said the strike action by the workers and the response to it could be seen as unfortunate, but the company was losing days of works for no justifiable reason.
“We feel unhappy, minimum unhappy, with this unfortunate strike or not strike, but refusal of 60 workers to go to work, to perform their duties and to abide by their own contractural obligations”, he said.
He explained that the company has been investing in Guyana and in the bauxite operations in the Berbice river at a time when bauxite is not doing as well as it should be doing on the international market. The company spokesman said today marked the fifth day since the workers have stayed away from their jobs and the company simply cannot afford it.
Permyakov told reporters that it is “sad” that when the workers decided to stay away from their jobs, no one called on them to think about what they were doing and the impact it could have on the rest of the company’s operations.
The strike by the workers started as a result of the company’s 1% salary increase. The workers protested the imposition and said they deserved much more. But the company official said in the past two years, the workers have seen a 16% salary increase, although the company’s operations in Guyana are not profit making.
“I am not happy today at all and all of us were not happy since Friday morning…after this group of workers refused to go to work”.
The Rusal official said the company consulted with its personnel department and labour advisors before it handed out termination letters yesterday.
Former Chief Labour Officer, Mohammed Akeel, now serves as a Labour Advisor to the company.
The terminated workers have refused to leave the company’s mining operations in the Berbice region. The company official said it is too early for the company to say whether the termination letters would be rescinded.
The Labour Department is expected to meet with the dismissed workers soon, before offering advice and a decision in the matter.