Good for bauxite workers: good for sugar workers

first_imgDear Editor,Please grant me the opportunity to flag for the attention and consideration of all my fellow Guyanese, the article in the State newspaper of Wednesday, September 10, 2018, entitled, “Task force works out severance pact for RUSAL workers.”In these times of rapid evolution in technologies and capabilities, taste and fashions, and in the relationships across a world trending to be more and more interdependent and more and more one, and at the same time, activating and encountering social and political forces aiming at resisting and reversing such trends, we must all be concerned that there might be great and rapid changes in the work we do and by which we earn our living. These do seem to be turbulent times and for more of us than ever before, the job we now have may leave us and for some time we may be seeking another.Workers in our traditional bauxite and sugar sectors have been facing such turbulence, more or less intensely from time to time, at least since the 1970s, starting with the nationalisation of those sectors at that time. It has been a rough ride since then for most of our citizens working in bauxite and sugar, and every one of us would be aware of what is ongoing presently.We cannot but be sympathetic to the workers of RUSAL’s bauxite operations in the Berbice River, whose jobs seem to be about to be ended through events in the world at large. And, therefore, I am supportive of and urge support to those workers: in particular what has been revealed in the article of the recommendations of the Task Force headed by the Honourable Minister Simona Broomes and including the General Secretary of the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union, Lincoln Lewis (also formerly President and General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Council, and my bauxite colleague of five decades).The article states that the Task Force recommends that these RUSAL bauxite workers facing termination be paid “a similar package that was applied in the case of LINMINE in 1993 and onwards, BERMINE in 2002 and onwards and OMAI Gold Mines in 2004, which means that the minimum (severance) pay for each year of service shall be equivalent to six weeks for each year of service to the maximum of two years’ pay in benefits”.Allow me to say that this is roughly twice what is required in the “Termination of Employment” law which we the PPP/C Administration enacted around 1997 as the consensus between Unions, Employers and the Government.The PPP/C person that I am, allow me the indulgence to flag that the recommendation quoted above acknowledge how favourably the PPP/C Administration treated with bauxite workers from 1993 onwards, through 2004 onwards: from 1993 when there was no law, and twice as well in 2004 and onward as the consensus law required.I call on all my fellow Guyanese to at least question the impression which was so often given and which they may have entertained, that we PPP/C have been heartless when it came to bauxite, bauxite workers and bauxite communities. Further, join the demand for similar, equitable treatment for all sugar workers, who are no more or no less Guyanese than bauxite workers and whose communities are just as much Guyanese communities. Prompt payment of severance is not haemorrhaging of our nation but our law and the humane and fair thing to do.The PPP/C in much more difficult times, empathising with bauxite workers, losing their jobs paid promptly twice what the law required. So, today we support the call for RUSAL workers to be treated similarly and with no question, no hesitation, we call for similar equitable treatment for sugar workers and sugar communities.We appreciate the acknowledgement of Mr Lincoln Lewis of the generous severance payment of the PPP/C Administration to bauxite workers. We expect the support of Mr Lincoln Lewis in our struggle for similar treatment for sugar workers; what is good for bauxite workers must be good for sugar workers also.Yours sincerely,Samuel AA HindsFormer Ministerresponsible for minesand minerals includingbauxiteFormer PrimeMinister andPresidentlast_img

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