Strike hits RUSAL Guinea plant, says not affected

CONAKRY, March 22 (Reuters) – A group of contracted workers downed tools at RUSAL’s 640,000-tonne-a-year Friguia alumina refinery in Guinea on Tuesday, a trade unionist and employees said, but the company said production was unaffected.

The workers, employed by contracted firms, said they were demanding the same pay as other subcontractors directly employed by RUSAL through a subsidiary.

“The strike is effective. The (RUSAL) management has just called us in for negotiations,” Diossory Kouyate, a leader for a trade union at the firm, told Reuters.

RUSAL, the world’s second-largest aluminium company, said there were no operational problems at its alumina refinery and that actions by what it called “hooligans”, did not disturb work.

“The hooligan actions of a very limited group of sub-contractors were halted. There was no disturbance to RUSAL’s operations,” the company said in an emailed statement.

“Apparently, hooligans wanted to disturb operations process at the refinery but failed.”

The RUSAL statement contradicted earlier statements by employees contacted by Reuters, who said about a thousand contracted workers had embarked on strike action and that activities at the refinery had slowed down.

Sources at the site said the staff of subcontracted companies closed the main gate giving access to the plant and that police were deployed but did not intervene.

It is estimated that the Friguia refinery produces about 1,800 tonnes of alumina per day.

In April last year, workers at the refinery embarked on a 16-day strike, demanding a 50 percent pay rise.

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