Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton on Tuesday conducted an impromptu visit to the St. Mary’s Quarry located in Bartica, Region Seven as part of a countrywide campaign to assess company’s compliance with labour laws.
While the senior management of the company was not on site at the time, Minister Hamilton, along with other Senior Labour Officers, interacted with staff members who expressed some grievances with their working conditions.
The employees complained of having to work 12-hour shifts, seven days each week without any days off or remuneration for overtime. They told the minister of being limited to four days vacation leave. It was alleged that expatriates have a different contractual agreement, which allows them to have longer vacation leave and days off.
After listening to the complaints of employees, Minister Hamilton informed the workers that their working conditions are in violation of the labour laws of Guyana.
According to the law, the normal work week is legislated as 40 hours not more than five days. Any hours of work beyond normal hours are remunerated as overtime.
The minister said he will be summoning the management of the company to engage them on the matter based on what was observed and what was reported by the employees.
“They will come for us to have a conversation and I will put these matters to them that I have observed and I was told and I will wait to hear their response, Minister Hamilton said.
He has issued a call for both local and foreign companies to respect and uphold the country’s labour laws.
“Let me say this to companies, and I will keep saying this to people, you have two options; either you obey the law and comply, or I call press conferences,” he said.
Minister Hamilton also visited the operations of the BK Quarry located at Teperu/Itabu along the Mazaruni River. Following a tour of the mines, he engaged the management on a number of issues.
The visits are part of a countrywide campaign to ensure companies are in compliance with the Laws of Guyana and that workers’ rights are protected.