Guinea strike brings capital to halt, hurts miners

Source: Reuters

CONAKRY, Oct 12 (Reuters) – A strike in Guinea brought its capital to a halt on Monday and union sources said it also hit bauxite exports as well as operations at UC RUSAL’s Friguia aluminium refinery. A collection of unions have called for two days of strikes after a Sept. 28 rally by tens of thousands of people protesting against the military rulers was quashed by soldiers, killing dozens of people. Most public and private offices remained closed on Monday morning and the usually bustling streets were largely empty at the start of the working week. Mining operations in the mineral-rich but vastly untapped West African nation, the world’s top bauxite-exporter, were also affected, officials said. “We are maintaining minimum service because an aluminium refinery cannot be completely shut-down without the equipment possibly being damaged. However, 90 percent of the Friguia workers stayed at home,” Sekou Ousmane Diallo, head of the union at UC RUSAL’s Friguia refinery. The Friguia refinery, which was projected to produce 527,000 tonnes of aluminium in 2008, is still operating despite a decision last month by the military junta to strip it from RUSAL. RUSAL is contesting the decision. An official at Guinea’s CBG, which exported 13.7 million tonnes of bauxite last year and is the country’s top revenue earner, also said the strike had affected operations but did not give any further details. Human rights activists say 157 people died in last month’s violence, which led to calls for international probes and dramatically increased pressure on the military junta to step down and not stand in elections now due next year. However the violence, which was the worst since the military seized power in late 2008, vowing to improve management after decades of misrule under the late Lansana Conte, has not scared off investors from the country. (Reporting by Saliou Samb; writing by David Lewis)
spotted by RS

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