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Prime Minister Bruce Golding, has established a task force to monitor developments in the bauxite industry. He has also given his complete assurance that the Government would exert all efforts to protect the bauxite industry and the jobs of the workers.
Mr. Golding gave the assurance when he met with union heads and delegates of the bauxite industry at Jamaica House this morning (February 5, 2009).
The Prime Minister said that he had met with the Leader of the Opposition, Mrs. Portia Simpson Miller, who agreed that a task force with the Government, the Opposition, the co-owner of Windalco and the unions, should be established to monitor developments and make recommendations to protect the industry. The Prime Minister also said that matters of land ownership and assistance for workers will have to be addressed by the group. The task force will hold its first meeting next week.
“If a worker is going to find that instead of five days pay, he is taking home three, then it means that whatever mechanisms we can put in place to help him, we must get that moving as quickly as possible,” Prime Minister Golding said.
Speaking on the possible sale of UC RUSAL Alumina Jamaica Limited’s interest in Windalco, the Prime Minister said that the company had reaffirmed its long-term interest in the plant, but that any sale could not go ahead without Jamaica’s agreement.
Mr. Golding noted that up to this time, there are no indications of cutbacks or the suspension of production at Alcoa. The Prime Minister said that the Chinese preparatory work to develop the Reynolds plant had slowed, but the Government is encouraged that the project would go ahead when economic conditions change.
The Prime Minister commended the unions for the efforts they have made to hold discussions with bauxite industry workers and to prepare them for these challenges. He stressed that this issue is not about worker productivity. He said, “It has nothing to do with the productivity of the workers. Our bauxite and alumina workers are among the most efficient workers in Jamaica and I would imagine that they could hold their own in any alumina plant in the world.”
This morning’s meeting was attended by the Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles; Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance, Dwight Nelson; Minister of State for Energy, Laurie Broderick; Permanent Secretaries and high level representatives from the bauxite industry. The unions in attendance were the University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU), the National Workers Union (NWU), the Union of Technical and Supervisory Personnel (UTASP) and the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU).

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