GAWU engages Labour Minister on exploitative practices of oil and gas enterprises

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(STATEMENT BY GUYANA AGRICULTURAL AND GENERAL WORKERS UNION)

The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) this afternoon (August 18, 2021) engaged Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton and other officials of the Ministry of Labour regarding the disregard of workers rights by several enterprises in the oil and gas sector.

Following the launch of the GAWU’s Oil and Gas Branch a few weeks ago, workers in the sector have regularly reached out to the Union.

Our engagements have revealed a common thread of worker exploitation across enterprises with many workers rights simply ignored or completely disregarded by the foreign and local bosses and their agents.

The GAWU drew to the Minister’s attention that workers are denied overtime payments or days off. These conditions we pointed out were statutorily enshrined yet, it appeared, that the enterprises operated with impunity.

Labour Minister, Joseph Hamilton

We contended that as a responsible Union we were duty bound to speak on behalf of the oppressed workers who are threatened with termination and other forms of intimidation.

Our Union lamented too the naked discrimination where foreigners are rewarded much more richly than local though undertaking the same tasks. This we noted is simply disrespectful to our hardworking Guyanese men and women.

Illustrating a practical example, we related that our Union recently wrote a well-known firm in the sector regarding their disregard for workers contractual obligations.

We shared that the company, which recently touted its multi-billion-dollar expansion plans, has not even greeted our correspondence with an acknowledgement.

In the circumstances, we sought the Ministry’s intervention to ensure that the workers who have already suffered greatly not to be cheated by the well-endowed enterprise.

Minister Hamilton thanked the GAWU for its forthright submission. He said that the Ministry was aware of similar situations and was committed to ensuring that no worker right is violated by local or foreign enterprises.

He shared that the Ministry, through the Chief Labour Officer, will invite the enterprise in an effort to ensure that the workers rights are upheld.

The Labour Minister assured that the workers have an ally in him and the Ministry and committed to working collaboratively with GAWU and other Unions to ensure that workers are protected.

The GAWU also used the opportunity to express its appreciation to the Minister and the Ministry for its efforts in seeking to bring resolution to the disrespect shown by the Demerara Timbers Limited (DTL) to our Union and its workers.

The Minister, according to a Labour Ministry statement, was forthright and told the company that it must respect the workers and the Union.

Expectedly within two weeks the Union and the Company will meet under the aegis of the Chief Labour Officer.

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