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RUSAL fires BCGI workers, suspends operations in Guyana

Russian Aluminium (RUSAL) on Monday decided to close operations at the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI) and fire all 326 workers, citing industrial unrest and damage to property.

“The suspension of BCGI will have no impact on the Company’s overall performance, as the expected decline in the overall bauxite supply from Guyana will be substituted with raw material from other mines,” the company said in a statement.

Representatives of RUSAL held fruitless talks with the Minister of Social Protection and the Chief Labour Officer.

The company said all its foreign employees have been been relocated, citing “security and safety” concerns. The company said the possibility of doing business in Guyana has declined. “As the unrest impacting the Company’s operations continues, RUSAL believes the opportunities for doing further business in Guyana are now severely limited,” RUSAL said.

RUSAL indicated that the Guyana government and related agencies have not done anything to end the now almost two-week long blockage of the Upper Berbice River after 142 workers had been laid off because the company did not get duty-free fuel concessions. Due to the blockage, the company had laid off another 146 workers.

The company indicated that government has done little or nothing to enforce the laws, deal with arson and blocking of the river. “As a result of serious illegitimate actions that have gone beyond the control of government and enforcement agencies, including arson of the electricity pylon basement and other corporate property, and blocking of the river, RUSAL considers it prudent to suspend and mothball operations of Bauxite Company of Guyana (BCGI),” the company said.

The Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) said it has not received any notice to sack the workers. The union again accused the company of attempting to influence the outcome of the March 2, 2020, general elections. “GB&GWU sees this new act as part of the recent calculated strategy to influence our elections by creating social upheavals. The company is seeking to buy time in the hope that 2nd March delivers the desired results,” the union said.