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Bauxite company sues union leaders over strike
Three days of industrial action in May this year by workers affiliated with the Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union (GBGWU) has triggered a lawsuit in the High Court involving union leaders and the RUSAL subsidiary here.The RUSAL subsidiary, Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI), is claiming substantial damages from the union (in excess of $1.5 million) saying that its leaders conspired and induced the workers at Aroaima, Berbice to strike earlier this year.The court action, which was instituted in July but only served late last month, named GBCWU Branch President Carlton Sinclair and General Secretary Leslie Gonsalves as defendants.According to the court papers, BCGI is seeking a declaration that the union leaders wrongfully and unlawfully and with the intention of injuring the company conspired and agreed to procure and induce the workers to breach their contracts of service with the workers abstaining from work on May 23-25, 2009. It is also seeking a declaration that the leaders conspired to prevent the workers from performing their contracts of service on the said days.The company is also seeking a declaration that the union leaders are guilty of interference with its trade or business, and also a declaration that the named defendants committed trespass to or upon the company’s property at Aroaima on the three days mentioned.The company is seeking damages for conspiracy, inducement and for trespass. There is also a claim for special damages. Further, BCGI is seeking an injunction restraining the leaders, their servants, their agents or otherwise from conspiring or procuring or inducing, or conspiring to procure or induce, the workers to breach their contracts with the company.But the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) publicly condemned the court action and has called on the company to review its decision to move legally against the union leaders.FITUG said it is unequivocally against the recent move to the court pointing out that agreements between the two parties stipulate that “there shall be no victimization by either party”. The umbrella union has pledged to demonstrate its collective solidarity with GBGWU in whatever manner is appropriate.In a press release issued on the court action FITUG said it finds the company’s legal action unprecedented and “completely repugnant to the culture and tradition of worker representation in a democratic society.“The RUSAL BCGI should be ashamed to institute legal proceedings against the union leaders as it could be construed to be action against the workers themselves.This is intimidation, coming at a time when the company should be promoting welfare and goodwill among its workers who must produce to keep BCGI viable,” FITUG stated. Further it said BCGI now risks the label of anti-union and anti-working class.
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