Submitted by Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (29 Dec 2010)
Today the Guyana Bauxite & General Workers Union (GB&GWU) turned up to a scheduled meeting at the Ministry of Labour. The ministry had initiated this meeting for the Union and the Bauxite Company of Guyana Inc (BCGI) to meet to address a number of issues, including the dismissal of the 57 workers in 2009 and the five in 2010. The meeting which was to be chaired by Mr. Charles Ogle, Assistant Chief Labour Officer, who was present, saw non attendance of the company’s representatives. In a letter seen by the GB&GWU’s representatives the company said that the Collective Labour Agreement (CLA) between itself and union has come to an end so it does not consider the ministry’s invitation to a meeting as valid.
It should be clearly stated that even though a collective labour agreement may be expired, while there still exists a Recognition Agreement, a company/employer is legally bound to engage with the union. GB&GWU has so informed the Ministry and has dispatched a letter (see attached) to the company highlighting its legal obligation. The expiration of a CLA has nothing to do with engagement between the parties, it is merely an excuse to avoid the legal obligation to engage, following on a pattern since December 2009 even though there exists a Recognition Agreement that legally binds the party. The Trade Union Recognition Act (98:07) Section 23. (1) ‘Compulsory recognition and duty to treat’ expressly states “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.”