$38.2M recovered in 2021 by Labour Ministry for unpaid workers


The Ministry of Labour was able to recoup a total of $38.2 million which was owed to over 1,000 employees in 2021 for salaries, annual leave, overtime payments and severance.

The Labour Ministry has been clamping down on employers who illegally withhold monies from their workers.

Following complaints from workers about monies owed to them, the ministry intervenes and holds a meeting with the employer and the employee (complainant) to hear from both parties.

“If I intervene with an employer and you want to give me a lot of chat, I just say to them: ‘They have two options, either you send the cheque to the Chief Labour Officer…or I call a press conference.

“That has worked very well for me, I didn’t have to call a press conference on anyone yet,” the Labour Minister Joseph Hamilton said at a recent engagement with the press.

Once the employer makes the payment, it is handed over directly to the employee.

The ministry received a total of 1, 086 complaints for the period January 2021 to December 2021; 77 per cent of those complaints have been resolved.

The majority of the complaints were from the Security and Protective Services which accounted for 27 per cent. Other sectors include Commerce, Food Industry and Restaurant, Agriculture, Manufacturing and Construction.

“My concern is the money, there are several hundreds of persons…they have 38 million [dollars] in their hand that people are trying to dispossess them of, that is the important thing for me,” Minister Hamilton said.

He noted that there are also several outstanding matters from previous years, where workers are owed monies.

To counter this issue, the Labour Ministry has been consistently engaging with workers to sensitise and educate them about their rights.

“We have started to engage the Chambers of Commerce with the view of informing them of the laws governing the conditions of work. Also, the ministry has started to visit markets and other popular locations to meet with workers,” Dhaneshwar Deonarine, the Chief Labour Officer told the News Room.

For 2022 thus far, the ministry visited workers at the Port Mourant and Albion markets in Region Six and the Parika Market in Region Three.

Two seminars with international and private recruitment agencies operating in the oil and gas industry were recently concluded.

The Chief Labour Officer explained that the ministry enforces the labour laws through inspections.

A total of 930 inspections were done in 2021 to ensure that businesses comply with the labour laws governing the conditions of work.

Between January and February 2022, 674 labour inspections were conducted.

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