In wake of sanctions imposed on RUSAL by the US Government, the company’s sub-contractor OLDENDORFF is tying up loose ends here, in the eventuality that they too, may be sanctioned.
But even as it makes moves in this regard, the company has pledged to honour all commitments made to its employees. Just yesterday, the Germany-owned OLDENDORFF handed over details of all employees currently employed in the company’s operations in the Berbice River. The presentation was made to the Chief Labour Officer, Charles Ogle, at the Department of Labour by Ulf Henriksson, General Manager of OLDENORFF.
OLDENDORFF is contracted by the Bauxite Company of Guyana Incorporated (BCGI) – which RUSAL is the parent company of – to transport bauxite from the mine areas near Aroima to load on ships at the mouth of the Berbice River.
The US Government Sanctions require that all companies doing business with those that have been sanctioned, wind down operations by October 23 of this year, or they themselves will be sanctioned.
While there are international negotiations taking place in an attempt to get the US Government to withdraw the current sanctions, OLDENDORFF is compelled to make preparations for winding down should such efforts fail. As a result, the company has begun to sensitize workers to the possibility that it will not be able to continue operations in Guyana.
Employment information from the company was requested by the Department of Labour in order to determine the benefits accrued to the employees should the company be forced to wind-down its operations.
The information is also expected to support the work of a cabinet appointed task force set up to address the future of workers at RUSAL and related companies in light of USA-imposed sanctions. BCGI is OLDENDORFF’s only client in Guyana.
The company has communicated that during its 12 years here, it would have employed and trained more than 250 persons from the Berbice area, most of whom still work for the company today. These employees have performed at the highest industry standards and contributed significantly to the performance efficiencies of the OLDENDORFF operation here.
Today, on the heels of yesterday’s handing over of the employee information, a team from the Department of Labour Occupational Safety and Health visited OLDENDORFF’s headquarters in New Amsterdam, Berbice.
The team, led by Senior Labour Officer Dexter Semple, conducted an inspection of the company’s records and working conditions. Semple also took the opportunity to speak directly with workers who assembled at the New Amsterdam Stelling. Workers had a free exchange with the Labour Officer and registered concerns for follow up.
OLDENDORFF suspended operations for two hours to allow the workers to attend the meeting. At the end of the meeting, OLDENDORFF managers presented each of the 115 employees gathered at the stelling with letters that provided information on the company’s response to the sanctions and the efforts that are being taken in the workers’ interest.
Company executives promised to provide further updates as more information becomes available.