Citing unrest and sabotage, Russian Federation aluminium giant U.C. Rusal shut down operations in Guyana yesterday, leaving over 300 employees without a job.
In a press release, Rusal said yesterday that several incidents in the recent past have pushed them to the inevitable.
“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). Written notices of termination have been sent to 326 employees.”
Rusal went on to say that it has relocated all expatriate workers for their safety, and that it estimates the chances of resuming work in the country “severely limited.” Rusal indicated that it would suffer no material impact from the closing, as they plan to make up for the loss of Guyana’s bauxite by substituting bauxite from other mines.
The press release was issued shortly after a contentious meeting between Rusal and representatives of the Guyanese government. Per local reports, Rusal’s representatives were in Guyana to attempt to find a way past a decade-long wage impasse.
However, Guyanese Minister Keith Scott challenged the notion that Rusal came in search of a solution.
“You came here in search for a way forward, you don’t know what we would have been offering, you don’t know whether we could have said this is your solution but you’re already telling us now that you came full well having determined to terminate everybody…this is bad faith.”
Scott went on to say he believed it to be quite clear that the labor force was being used as pawns in the disagreement between the state, Rusal, and Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GB&GWU).
Rusal’s Vladimir Permyakov rebutted that notion, saying that the decision to close was made on an emergency basis, citing a blockage in the Berbice River and a drop in aluminium prices forced their hand.