Entornointeligente.com / â”at all times, to protect workers Dear Editor, THE Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU) notes that despite the apparent statements of solidarity and calling on the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc. (BCGI/Rusal) to reinstate workers, etc. there is a greater effort to sow seeds of discord between the Union and the workers, and as such the statements made by Sherwin Downer, President of the National Mine Workers Union of Guyana (NMWUG) are seen as duplicitous, some may say treacherous.
They are unwelcomed for they lack the true spirit of brotherhood and solidarity which true unions are noted for, and which was demonstrated in the support that was received from many in public space. The entity known as NMWUG is best known as âthe unionâ that BCGI sought to foist on the workers at Aroaima as it sought to displace and derecognise the GB&GWU. The NMWUG has no bargaining rights anywhere, and has never represented workers in any company or industry. It will hereafter be referred to as âthe entityâ.
During the struggles of the GB&GWU, when organisations, trade unions, groups and individuals came out in solidarity, âthe entityâ and Downer were silent, but seeks now, at this juncture, to undermine workers’ confidence when the GB&GWU is sitting at the bargaining table with BCGI in an atmosphere of cordiality and mutual respect. To question the motive of bilateral discussions between BCGI and the GB&GWU is a subtle and devious way of undermining the confidence of the workers in their Union. Downer has always been on the opposite side of the workers and their Union in BCGI and along with others of the same mindset to destroy the GB&GWU. There is no doubt in this instance he is seeking to continue in this capacity, and in this regard he remains consistent.
For Downer, trade union course 101 would help him to understand that when the company sits directly across the table and treat with the union, it is a strong signal that the management has accepted the union as the sole bargaining agent for the workers employed. Further, when the Labour Department or Ministry of Social Protection invites the union and company, it is the Department and ministry’s meeting. When either the union or company request of the other to have a meeting, it becomes a meeting of the two parties, with neither of the two speaking through an intermediary.
These meetings are usually held on the premises of the employer. There isn’t any collective agreement in any organisation that excludes bilateral engagement or determines the place of meeting. He is reminded that the strength of the GB&GWU, the commitment and trustworthiness of its leadership, is not threatened by where any meeting is conducted, nor by who chairs or who is present. GB&GWU, as an experienced recognised union with approximately 47 years of workers’ representation, stands true and firm in all its deliberations.
Of the 500-plus workers employed by BCGI, it is instructive that Downer chose to make a case from, as he claims, one worker who said the meeting between BCGI and GB&GWU of March 15 was done in secrecy. Where were Downer and the âemployeeâ he hides behind when the GB&GWU made it public that it was meeting with BCGI, and of the planned content to be discussed. Where were they when, following the meeting on the same day (March 15) a press statement detailing the progress of the meeting and discussions held were made public. The public knew about this meeting before and after, and also the Unionâs branch leaders of BCGI were at the meeting.
The GB&GWU has stood up, and will continue to stand up and represent the interest and wellbeing of workers, and to work steadfastly to ensure the workers maintain their trust and confidence in their willingness to so do. The Union will wage battle valiantly, at all times, to protect workers. And even in event of any losses, as there is likely to be at some times throughout the world of trade union struggles, workers will always be reassured that their battle is one that will be well fought.
Regards Leslie Gonsalves President GB&GWU
LINK ORIGINAL: Guyana Chronicle