Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union

The following is the reprinting of the second press release we have received from the struggling bauxite workers in Guyana.

Again, the African Socialist International stands in total solidarity with the struggles against foreign bosses and the neocolonialist Guyanese state. All power to the wokers!

GB&GWU writes ERC about failure to investigate eight-month old complaint as per its constitutional responsibility

The Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GB&GWU) today dispatched a letter to Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Yvonne Langevine, Ethnic Relations Commission,reminding the Commission that it still awaits a public inquiry into its eight-month old complaint about discrimination by the Government of Guyana against bauxite workers and their communities based on race and political geography.

The Union, having expressed its concerns over the Commission’s inaction, reminded it that the government discriminatory policy to bauxite workers and their communities are public knowledge which date back to 1992, with the November 2009 treatment of the impasse between the workers, represented by the GB&GWU and the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI), being the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As per the Guyana Constitution Article 212D (a) the ERC has a responsibility to “provide for equality of opportunity between persons of different ethnic groups and to promote harmony and good relations between such persons” of which over the years bauxite workers and their communities have been denied “equality of opportunity” under this government of which such discriminatory treatment is public knowledge.

The ERC has been reminded that the impasse between the GB&GWU and the BCGI, of which the Government of Guyana (the People of Guyana) have shareholding investment, is now 11 months old, and not only are the rights of bauxite workers being trampled on but 57 families are being economically deprived, the consequence of 57 workers being dismissed by the company without due process.

Even as the ERC refuses to hold a public inquiry, the GB&GWU notes the disparity in treatment of four sugar workers who were dismissed from their jobs and subsequently reinstated within one (1) month following union negotiations.

The 57 dismissed workers of GB&GWU are not even being allowed to have their union negotiate for their reinstatement even as they are left out in the wilderness without jobs and income to support their families for 11 long months. 

These are discriminatory issues that the Government of Guyana is at the center of and the disparity in treatment of these two entities is no coincidence with the variance in the approach to dealing with disputes in the PPP centered / Indian dominated sugar industry as opposed to the African dominated, perceived PNC centered Bauxite industry. 

GB&GWU strongly believes that justice delayed is justice denied and the fact that eight months have gone by with no action makes it reasonable to assume that the ERC is failing in its duty under Article 212D(b) to “promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity.”

Its failure to conduct an inquiry that affects the equality of a significant section of this society begs the question as to the commission’s sincerity and commitment to “discourage and prohibit persons, institutions, political parties and association from indulging in, advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices on the ground of ethnicity” as clearly outlined under 212D(e).

The ERC was established out of the recognition that there are ethnic conflicts in the society that need addressing.

Its funding, including remuneration of staff, is being made possible by the taxpaying public, which include the bauxite communities, and as such it not only owes this society a constitutional responsibility, it also has a responsibility to the bauxite workers and their communities to carry out a public inquiry into their grievances.  

Thus, its continued failure to act places it in the precarious position of being seen not only as failing to honor its constitutional responsibility but also now becoming party to the intensification of ethnic conflicts that pervade the society and which is contributing to the insecurity among ethnic groups.

Bauxite workers and their communities are part of this society and consistent with Article 212D (d) the GB&GWU holds the ERC accountable to carrying out a public inquiry that would ensure bauxite workers and their communities to be an equal part of the social, economic, cultural and political life of this country. Nothing less will be expected.

Carlton Sinclair
General Secretary (ag.)

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