Minister of Social Protection, Amna Ally, has reversed a “cease work” order against Australian gold mining company, Troy Resources Inc., issued by junior minister within her ministry, Keith Scott.
Following a preliminary investigation into the death of Ryan Taylor, a miner who died on duty at the company’s “Hicks One Extension” pit last Tuesday, Minister Scott, on Thursday, wrote the company ordering a “cessation of all mining activities with immediate effect until further notice”.
Minister Ally’s position comes after the company, last Monday, issued employees with letters informing that they were being laid off given that operations at the mines had ceased.
This left the employees apprehensive about their October salaries and fate of their jobs. The company noted that their actions were in keeping with the law.
“The company took the step of standing down all site employees other than those undertaking security duties, exploration activities and those involved in preparing the processing plant for a full shut-down. Under Guyana’s law, a company is permitted to stand down the workforce without pay for up to six weeks in certain cases,” the statement read.
Taylor died while on duty, after he was buried beneath the rubble when part of a mining pit he was working on collapsed.
The company has three pits, the other two being “Larkin” and “Smarts Three”.
Following Taylor’s death, the “Hicks One Extension” pit was cordoned off. However, on Thursday, Scott said operations at all the pits would have to be investigated and the investigation was expected to commence last Friday, October 11.
In a reported statement, the company called the order for the cessation of operations at all the mines a “knee-jerk reaction”.
“This stop order was inconsistent with normal protocols in such situations, which is to cordon off the area of the incident, being the Hicks One Extension Trench, a process the company had already undertaken immediately after the accident,” a statement from the company reportedly said.
“Troy considers that it is possible that the junior minister in question chose to act as a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction in response to extensive false and misleading information being circulated on social media by various groups and individuals, concerning the accident and the safety record of the company generally.”
Meanwhile, President of the People’s United and General Workers Union (PUGWU), Lincoln Lewis, maintains that Taylor’s death was avoidable, noting that the union has been received numerous complaints of safety issues from workers.
Lewis said, however, that he would not say whether the closure of all operations at the company was good or bad.
“I would not say whether right or wrong, it is for the ministers to say if they are operating in the confines of the law. Whatever we do, we cannot just do what we feel, we have to been guided. Whatever Troy does must be guided by the laws and institution,” Lewis noted, while speaking during an interview on Vantage Point.
Troy Resources was scheduled to meet with the union on Wednesday but cancelled the meeting.