Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, has called for a tripartite meeting involving the Government, unions, and the management of St. Ann-based Noranda Bauxite Limited (NBL).
Addressing delegates and leaders of the three unions representing workers, at the Cardiff Hotel and Spa in Runaway Bay, St. Ann today (January 30), Minister Paulwell said the purpose of the meeting is to ensure that there is clear understanding of the issues and to chart a way forward.
“I want the workers, the company and the Government to be represented at this tripartite meeting where all views are represented and where nobody can say they were not aware of this or they were not aware of that,” he said.
“I can commit the Minister of Finance (and Planning Hon. Dr. Peter Phillips) and my team to join you,” he added.
Minister Paulwell said the priority of the Government is the preservation of “every single Jamaican job” at the bauxite company.
“I want to make this abundantly clear; we have to preserve the jobs of the workers at Noranda and so any negotiations that we pursue from here on, we will have that as a bottom line and the Government of Jamaica has not closed its doors in relation to further negotiations,” Minister Paulwell said.
Member of Parliament for South West St. Ann, Keith Walford, supported the call for the tripartite meeting, saying a sitting down of the three parties can only bring forth a sound resolution.
He said that closure of the bauxite plant could have a devastating effect on several communities in the constituency. Mr. Walford said he also welcomes the assurance given by Minister Paulwell that the Government is focused on preserving jobs.
The meeting follows the announcement nearly two weeks ago by NBL that it had made 13 positions redundant at its Discovery Bay plant, with signs that there may be more redundancies to follow.
A release issued on behalf of Noranda Aluminum Holding Corporation (Noranda), the United States-based parent company of NBL, informed of decisions taken to reduce costs in its integrated aluminum business that includes bauxite mining operations in Jamaica, an alumina refinery in Gramercy, Louisiana, and its primary smelter in New Madrid, Missouri.
The release listed steps to reduce costs and address challenges in its “upstream business,” focusing on a 25 per cent reduction of its upstream (mining) workforce, and potential curtailment of operations at its aluminum smelter and refinery in Louisiana.
Representing the workers at the meeting were leaders of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), the University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU), and the Union of Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Personnel (UTASP).
Also present was Member of Parliament for North West St. Ann, Dayton Campbell.