Sun | Sep 20, 2020

UC Rusal ban halted for now, local stakeholders rejoice

Published:Wednesday | May 2, 2018 | 12:00 AMLivern Barrett and Ruddy Mathison/Gleaner Writers

Local stakeholders of the bauxite operations owned by Russian company UC Rusal have welcomed news that yesterday, the United States (US) amended sanctions it had imposed on key figures in Russia, a move that could end the blacklisting of the international aluminium giant.

Not only is the decision expected to provide a shot in the arm for the metals market and a reprieve from a supply scare that rocked markets over the past month, it will provide a lifeline for the employees and communities that benefit from the operations of UC Rusal-owned West Indies Alumina Company (WINDALCO) in St Catherine and Kirkvine works in Manchester.

Hugh Graham, the man who will replace Robert Pickersgill in future general elections in North West St Catherine constituency, said that he was heartened by the announcement because it gave the company some time to put its house in order to ensure that workers will not be severely affected.

"Windalco is the largest employer of skill and semi-skilled workers in North West St Catherine, and if they were affected by the sanctions, it would be bad for both the local and national economy," Graham stated.

"Given this situation, I will further say that the Government must make all the necessary effort to ensure that we have controlling interest in our bauxite companies so events like these will not impact negatively on Jamaica's economy," he added.

Reacting to news of the reprieve for UC Rusal, Devon Smith, president of the Linstead Community Development Committee, said that his group was delighted to hear the news.

"We know the impact that it would have on the workers at the lower end of the scale, of which a large portion of our membership are in that category," he told The Gleaner.