Guyana Government and Russian-owned Company on Collision Course Over Dismissal of Striking Workers

Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally (centre) and her team meeting with the RUSAL representatives (at left). (Credit: DPI)

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Wednesday February 27, 2019 – Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally says government will have to examine the future of the operations of the United Company Russian Aluminum (RUSAL) in Guyana, after the company refused to rehire 61 employees it fired for going on strike earlier this month and further announced that it was sending home more workers.

Ally, along with Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott, met for the second time with the RUSAL officials yesterday to try to iron out the issues. While Minister Ally was expecting some positive information on the way forward, Director of Aluminum and Bauxite Department Vladimir Permyakov, instead, laid out an 11-point position the company has taken, none of which the government supports.

Instead of reinstating the workers, as expected, the RUSAL representative said dismissed workers who wish to continue working would have to reapply after which they could write their demands to the company.

He said the company would sign a new labour contract with the workers.

The enterprise has also commenced disassembling machinery. The company’s representative said operators of those machines will be dismissed with full pay.

Minister Ally says RUSAL’s management is unreasonable and that it has taken an unthinkable position on the matter.

“It is very clear that you do not want an amicable solution to this matter, because you have put on the table issues to the government of Guyana which says take it or leave. I believe that this is very unreasonable for you to do,” she told the company’s representatives, adding that nothing agreed to prior had been honoured.

The ministerial team also learned that another 30 workers were sent notices by Personnel Manager, Mikhail Krupenin, informing them that their department was down and that they were out of work for the time.

While workers are being dismissed, the company is at the same time seeking out other persons to join a new shift.

Minister Ally said the move is ludicrous.

“Why do you want to punish the existing workers instead of settling a dispute which is existing?” she questioned. “I can tell you for sure we definitely have to look at the future of the company. This is not right for workers to be punished in this respect.”

Minister with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott said the government will not go back on its word of supporting the workers.

“Workers have the right to organise and strike, and you cannot make any moves against that. Any time you dismiss 60… you are sending a psychological message that you are the master of them, and they dare not strike,” he said.

Click here to receive news via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)