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posted 17 Jan 2010, 14:05 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 17 Jan 2010, 14:08 ]

Presentation made to the Trade Union Recognition & Certification Board

by the

Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union


Ministry of Labour

82 Brickdam



January 12, 2009


Today the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GB&GWU) is engaging the Trade Union Recognition & Certification Board (TURB), a legally constituted body under the Laws of Guyana with full anticipation that the decisions made by the body are legally binding and will be honoured by all involved. The matter before the TURB is about the Laws of Guyana, and the respect for workers and individual’s rights consistent with these laws. The prism of race and political affiliation which appear to be underpinning events that took place in this industrial dispute are unfortunate, and we hope that such undertones will have no part in influencing the application of laws and rights within the ambit of the TURB. GB&GWU recognises that laws and rights are not social constructs that people beg for rather they are time honoured principles entrenched in modern society evolving  from ancient civilizations  and  peoples struggles, to become essential rudiments of social structures defining human interaction and protecting the powerless from those who would abuse their power or the dominion they have over others. The TURB has the constitutional mandate to adjudicate without fear and favour.

  We state below the matter of the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GB&GWU) and the Bauxite Company Guyana Inc. (BCGI) where the Union charges that BCGI and the Minister of Labour are involved in acts inimical to the best interest of Bauxite workers, the communities of which they are a part and the peace and stability of the industrial sector. These are manifest in the following: 

The refusal of the Bauxite Company Guyana Inc. (BCGI) to meet with the Union to discuss matters pertaining to workers’ welfare in as much as there exists a legal Certificate of Recognition between the parties;

  1. The company’s actions of coercing members of the Union to sign a company prepared petition to request a poll with a view of de-recognising the Union under Section 31 of the Trade Union Recognition Act, Chapter 98:07, and;
  2. In light of public statements reported in the Stabroek News, January 2, 2010 where the Minister of Labour said the Ministry has not conducted an investigation to determine whether the signatures were taken fairly and not under duress yet opined that it “may indicate that those signatures were gotten of free will.”

  The approach to the Trade Union Recognition & Certification Board is first and foremost determined by the Trade Union Recognition Law Part II (11) which specifically says: “The Board shall be charged with responsibility as more specifically set out under Part III for the determination of all applications and matters concerning the certification of trade unions as recognised majority unions.”

  In the said Act attention is drawn to the Issue and contents of certificates:

22. (1)     The Board shall issue a certificate under its seal to the union and to the employer in every case in which it certifies a trade union as the recognised majority union.

22. (2) The certificate shall contain a statement of the following particulars -

(a)    the name of the employer and the trade union thereby certified;
(b)    the category or categories of workers comprised in the bargaining unit;
(c)    the number of workers comprised in the bargaining unit at the relevant date; and
(d)    such other matters as may be prescribed


 Compulsory recognition and duty to treat.:

23. (1) Where a trade union obtains a certificate of recognition for workers comprised in a bargaining unit in accordance with this Part, the employer shall recognise the union, and the union and the employer shall bargain in good faith and enter into negotiations with each other for the purpose of collective bargaining.”

 Consistent with the laws the Trade Union Recognition & Certification Board under its seal has issued a Certification of Recognition for a specific group of workers employed by the Bauxite Company Guyana Inc. A copy of this certificate forms Appendix I of this document.

  The Union’s position is that BCGI is in breach of this Act by refusing to engage the Union as stipulated under Section 23 (1) of the law. By letter dated December 1, 2009, BCGI wrote the Union informing it that it has terminated the Collective Labour Agreement and will put mechanism in place to have the Union de-recognised. This letter forms Appendix II.   

  Chapter 98:07 has vested the authority for Trade Union Recognition and more so the determination as to which union will bargain on behalf of workers in any entity in the Trade Union Recognition & Certification Board established under this Act.

 The coercion of workers to sign a petition emanated from BCGI’s decision communicated in letter dated December 1, 2009 to put mechanism in place to de-recognise the Union. The Minister’s public statement as reported in Stabroek News, January 2, 2010 that “I can’t say as gospel, that it may indicate that those signatures were gotten of free will” even as he admitted that his ministry did not conduct an investigation to determine if the signatures were taken fairly and not under duress, raises serious questions as to the intent of the ministry. The company’s petition forms Appendix III.

  Workers have indicated that they were approached by supervisors and management representatives to the sign the petition because the company will be getting a new union to represent them.  A number of employees have indicated to the Union by way of a signed document that they were approached by representative of the management to sign the company’s prepared petition. To protect these employees from being victimized this document will not form an appendix to this memorandum but a copy will be given to the Chairman of the Board in whom we have implicit and would use this information to advise his colleagues while protecting Bauxite workers from further workplace victimization.

  There is an agreement between the company and its employees who are members of the Union for a weekly deduction of Union dues from their wages and to have same remitted to the GB&GWU. BCGI has arbitrarily ceased the deduction while the agreement says that the deduction will be ceased based on an authorized revocation form submitted by the worker/member to the company.

  These acts constitute serious violations of the law and the Union charge today that the company is culpable under the Offences by employers which states:

 “26. (2) An employer shall not -

(a)    make the employment of a worker subject to the condition -that he shall or shall not .become a member of a trade union or shall relinquish his membership of a trade union;

(c)    with intent to dissuade or prevent a worker from becoming such officer, delegate or member, or from so appearing or giving evidence, threaten to dismiss him, or to affect his employment adversely or to alter his position to his prejudice by reason of the circumstances that the worker is or proposes to become, an officer, delegate or member of a trade union, or that worker proposes to appear as a witness or to give evidence in any proceeding under this Act.”

 Consistent with the law BCGI has no authority to terminate a Collective Labour Agreement between itself and the GB&GWU. Signaling its intent to move to have the Recognition Agreement terminated should also be noted. The Union has taken the opportunity to bring these grave transgressions to the Board’s attention and wishes to make it abundantly clear that until such time that the TURB has taken a decision consistent with the Laws that the Union no longer represenst the workers as prescribed under the Certificate issued by this Board dated 4 April 2008, the GB&GWU is the recognised Bargaining Agent and as such we call on you to use your authority vested in the Act Part II (11) to have all concomitant agreements respected and upheld.

 This case as we define is a clear attack on workers’ rights and the rule of law. The GB&GWU therefore sees no reason why this matter should not be treated with the urgency it deserves to ensure that BCGI  and all other parties involved/concerned respect the rule of law and workers’ rights.

Today we look for the triumph of laws and justice over ethnic/racial, political and/or other forms of discrimination. GB&GWU anticipates the TURB's impartial intervention but warns that nothing short of justice and fair play will be accepted for the cause of the Bauxite workers is just and right in keeping with the Laws of Guyana Chapter 98:07 which entrenches the right of GB&GWU as the recognised union and to bargain on behalf of the workers.

Thank you,

Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union