Indonesians to return home after dispute with Guyanese employer

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By Bibi Khatoon

Twenty-six Indonesian workers will soon be on their way home after a dispute over payment with their employer –  Pritipaul Singh Investments (PSI) Incorporated.

The workers, who each share a two-year contract with the company, walked off the job on January 01, 2018, after they were not satisfied with the bonuses they received. They left the PSI’s compound at Providence on the East Bank of Demerara where they were housed and sought refuge at the Providence Mosque located a short distance away.

News Room was previously told that the men were fired and left stranded, however, representatives from the Indonesian Embassy in Paramaribo, Suriname visited Guyana on Monday, January 08, 2018 and met with Managers of the company, where it was disclosed that the workers walked off the job.

According to the workers, while their contracts state that they should be paid US$400, they are being paid the equivalent in Guyanese currency, something which affects them given the fact that the exchange rate has changed from GY$200- US$1 since they signed their contract in 2016.

However, the company’s Secretary and Deputy Managing Director, Vishnu Panday explained that the monies are paid in Guyana dollars since the men will not be able to purchase their day-to-day amenities with US dollars from the surrounding shops and other businesses.

As it relates to the issue of the bonus, it was pointed out that a bonus is paid at the discretion of an employer. Panday explained that the workers are paid a high sum or low sum based on their catch, which also includes the grade of the fish –which is checked at the wharf.

“The friction came because of the four boats that went to sea, three of them brought more ‘bi-catch’ than one boat. As a result, I take it few of the boats have almost double the value of earnings as compared to the one boat which brought less, which is common sense,” Panday said.

The company said that it made several attempts to reach out to the foreign nationals to return to work after their walk-out, but the workers refused.

However, two of the workers, who were present at the meeting –one of whom has a fair knowledge of the English Language, refuted the claims.

“I see that there is a misunderstanding….I heard from them that ‘sir, we want to go back to work if we get the bonus,” Third Secretary of the Indonesian Embassy in Suriname, Falentino Mara told the company representative.

This did not go well with the Company’s Deputy Managing Director who noted that he instead expected the men to “apologise and say they were angry at the time or something.”

Panday maintained that the Indonesians breached their contracts by walking off the job.

As such, he disclosed that the company went ahead and hired other employees to meet its demand.

“We have recruited employees already to get our boats to go back to sea…we had to seek alternative…” Panday said.

He further noted, “business is run by financial basis where at the end of the month I have to pay the bank, I have to pay my financiers, my workers, as a result, we did employment and we continue the business.”

The Indonesians were recruited by the company for their skills in harvesting Tuna fishes, something which is fairly new to Guyana and is being exported on a large scale by the fishing company. Asked how this market is now being served, it was noted that some persons were trained by the foreign nationals.

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