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Former Workers Block RUSAL Guinea Rail Shipments

September 7, 2011

UPDATE 1-Former workers block RUSAL Guinea rail shipments

Wed Sep 7, 2011 7:02pm GMT

* Rail shipments blocked for two days – sources

* Ex-workers sit on tracks, say RUSAL owes them money

* RUSAL officials not immediately available to comment (Adds details, quotes)

By Saliou Samb

CONAKRY, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Former workers at RUSAL’s Friguia alumina refinery in Guinea have blocked the company’s rail shipments to port for two days by sitting on the tracks, protesters and a source with knowledge of RUSAL’s Guinea operations told Reuters on Wednesday.

The retired workers said they are owed money by RUSAL, which typically ships about 1,500 tonnes of alumina along the rail line each day for export from the port of Conakry. A RUSAL official was not immediately available for comment.

“We are suffering, we are hungry,” said Fatoumata Lamarana Balde, one of the protesters.

Guinea’s government ordered RUSAL to pay some of its retirees 19 months of salary to resolve a labour dispute, according to the contents of a letter written by Mines Minister Mohamed Lamine Fofana last month and seen by Reuters.

The protesters said they had not been paid.

A source close to RUSAL’s Guinea-based executives and who has knowledge of the Friguia plant’s operations said the company was seeking to negotiate a solution with local authorities.

The protest is the latest in a string of disputes that have hindered the Russian mining giant’s operations in the West African state, the world’s top supplier of bauxite.

Workers at Friguia went on strike briefly in March, three weeks after Guinea’s government blocked RUSAL’s alumina exports in a dispute over alleged pollution. (Reporting by Saliou Samb; writing by Richard Valdmanis; editing by Keiron Henderson and Bob Burgdorfer)

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