General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress, Lincoln Lewis, believes it is time for the impasse with the Rusal Bauxite Company to go to arbitration.
Speaking to reporters today after a meeting with officials of the Labour Department, the veteran trade unionist said the Minister could invoke provisions of the labour laws and force the union and the Rusal company to go to arbitration.
“You have all the conditions. The river has been blocked, and it is creating a crisis in the upper Berbice river and the Minister can use that to appoint an arbitration tribunal and under the Collective Labour Agreement, it says that either party can request the matter to go to arbitration”, he said.
He said the Minister should call RUSAL and let them know that the Union is ready to move to arbitration.
Mr. Lewis said the Union is prepared for the arbitration process as it does not intend for the workers to continue facing many of the same problems that they have been complaining about.
Rusal has refused to hold any engagement with the unions, especially with Lewis as part of the union delegation.
The trade unionist has said that he does not intend to recuse himself from any meeting with the company since it is not the company’s place to determine who should and who should not make up its negotiating teams.
He added that Rusal may be afraid of arbitration because it will be forced to speak directly with the union and will also have to provide details of its finances.
The Rusal standoff has entered its third week. The company is coming under fire over its decision to fire 61 workers because they started a strike action against a 1% increase in salaries.
The government is demanding that the workers be rehired.