It is evident that the PPP/C Administration has been deliberately lax in ensuring that the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc.’s (RUSAL) observes and respects the Laws of Guyana, particularly in the area of the adherence to the Occupational Health and Safety regulations. This is evident by the following developments:
- RUSAL workers at the Aroaima worksite were recently injured as a consequence of gross violations of the regulations and procedures for the disposal of explosives.
- Rusal suspended 67 workers who protested unsafe working conditions at its operations during May 2009. Shortly afterwards, RUSAL dismissed 5 workers who were protesting over the unsanitary conditions for the storage of food materials, in areas infested by rodents and roaches, in the kitchen where meals were usually prepared for staff at the Aroaima Location.
According to APNU Shadow Minister of Labour, Mr. Basil Williams, MP, as a consequence of the above developments, the matters were listed as differences for resolution by way of Arbitration to be conducted by the Minister of Labour. However, the Minister of Labour, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, false started a purported invocation of compulsory arbitration by his failure to sign the notice himself as was required to initiate the Arbitral proceedings. Instead, the Minister had the Chief Labour Officer sign the document and RUSAL took advantage of this lapse to, on the 11th March 2012, bring proceedings against the Minister, to quash his decision.
The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) was forced to obtained the leave of the Court for the Chief Justice to intervene in the matter, to prevent the matter from languishing in the Courts, by getting the parties to have the matter settled by the Minister accepting that he had initiated a flawed Arbitration, in breach of the Labour Act.
The Minister agreed that he would trigger the Arbitration in the correct manner as soon as possible. However, he has, so far, failed to do so with the result that RUSAL has been left to impugn the occupational Health and Safety of the bauxite workers.
When will Dr. Nanda Gopaul, the Minister of Labour, fulfil his responsibilities to the Bauxite workers of RUSAL, in the same expeditious manner that he has intervened and settled matters for workers in other sectors?