Guyanese HR personnel misdirecting foreign companies, breaching labour laws – Hamilton

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Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton speaks to the News Room Kurt Campbell

Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton Friday raised serious concerns with the role Guyanese Human Resource personnel are playing in misdirecting foreign companies and creating the environment for a breach of local labour laws.

Hamilton, speaking on the sidelines of a labour seminar at the Pegasus Hotel, said some local lawyers have also been involved in the misdirecting and the “concocting” of contracts that are appalling and seek to make Guyanese slaves “in this time.”

“I’ve had instances where companies when I engage them, they say is the HR advice or some lawyer,” Hamilton posited in disappointment.

With well over 80 companies participating in the seminar, it targets foreign-owned companies operating in Guyana’s oil and gas sector.

Hamilton said it was necessary to engage these companies as the government looks to greater regulation and the imposition of hefty fines for breaches.

This sensitization seminar focuses on conditions of work, occupational safety and health requirements, apprenticeship, and employment exchange services for foreign-owned companies and private recruitment agencies.

Prime Minister Brigadier Mark Phillips addressed the opening of the conference and said that work conditions were fair between employers and employees but that improvements were necessary.

The Labour Minister, who has had more intimate dealings with the issues, said he is not satisfied having had to personally intervene in several incidents where foreign companies went afoul of labour laws, reminding of the introduction of a time bank by a foreign company last year which is against Guyana’s laws.

He said the breaches by foreign companies go beyond oil and gas.

“Many times, I’ve had to intervene.”

A section of the gathering at the seminar

“There are several instances of that sort in the different sectors. Mining, construction, and oil and gas but this seminar is to once and for all have a conversation with every participant what the laws are.”

“Not just oil and gas and expatriate oil companies but we also have issues with private local companies,” Hamilton explained.

While the foreign companies participating were not invited for a scolding but more of the building of better relations, Hamilton said he remains strict issues relating to equal pay for equal work.

Asked how the government intends to address the breaches beyond the conference, the Minister said there is currently a joint legal committee reviewing legislation in the labour sector.

“Fines will be substantial coming out of the recommendations.”

He said the new legislation will seek to ensure that employment and training agencies are regulated with specific fines for breaches.

“You can’t do partnership unless authorised by the Board of Industrial Training.”

“You cannot have a temporary employee for beyond six months.”

“You cannot debar workers from participating in unions,” Hamilton reminded.

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