No word from Labour Ministry, GRA, NIS on drilling co. workers’ complaints

August 1, 2011 | By | Filed Under News 

The Ministry of Labour, the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and The National Insurance Scheme (NIS) have all remained silent on allegations by Guyanese workers of being robbed by a Trinidad Drilling Company.
The company has been drilling for water at Manchester Village, Corentyne, Berbice for the past year.
Continued checks by affected workers with the relevant agencies have yielded no results.
The checks also revealed that there are no records of the company’s existence in Guyana.
The workers are now more convinced that they are being robbed since no one is willing to look into their plight.
Monies deducted by the company for NIS and other taxes reportedly cannot be accounted for and representatives of the respective agencies had told the affected workers that there was nothing they could do.
The workers became suspicious that something was ‘fishy’ after the bosses kept changing the rules constantly.
One worker, Carlton Butcher called ‘Rastaman’ of Alness Village, Corentyne had contacted the media and related his horror story.
He stated that he has been working with the company since August 2010 when they started drilling for water in Berbice.
He stated that officials of the company told them that they will be paid $5000 per day for 12 hours work, while Saturdays will attract time and a half and double pay on Sundays and holidays.
However, nothing like that materialized.
The workers were also told that monies will be deducted from their salaries to pay their NIS and other Taxes.
After a new manager by the name of Mr. Cool arrived, they were told that they will not be paid extras for Saturdays or Sundays. The employees stated that they are being paid by hand and received no pay slips.
“We just sign in a book with no carbon. So we don’t even know if there are any records of any payment to anybody,” Butcher said.
Butcher had stated that after a while, he decided to make checks with NIS, to see if any monies were being remitted in their names.
To their dismay, they were told that NIS doesn’t have any record of any company by the name of ‘Water and Oil’ operating in Guyana and that no money had been remitted in their names for anything.
Butcher then made a visit to the GRA where he was told the same thing.
He then collected a form from the GRA, filled it up and took it to his “boss man” to complete and sign.
But the “Boss man”, who is being assisted by four other Trinidadians, had refused to acknowledge the document. Visits were also made to the Ministry of Labour, but the officers there seemed reluctant to assist.
The workers were promised that someone will visit but nothing materialized.
A Miss Marioye  Rowana, who is an Occupational Safety and Health Officer attached to the office, gave them a contact card, but that was all they got from the Ministry  of Labour.

Subsequent checks revealed only promises. A representative of the NIS Port Mourant Office subsequently visited the work site and had a discussion with the managers, but nothing came out of that visit, the man had said.
Butcher was subsequently singled out as a troublemaker and was told that he is not required to work anymore.  He is owed salary since May 26th and his former employers are refusing to pay him.
Butcher stated that he told the managers that he will take up his case in search for justice and he and other disgruntled workers were told to “Go to whoever you all want”.
Butcher stated since then he has been making relentless checks with the relevant agencies to get his money and justice but to no avail.
Just last week he went to Georgetown and visited all the relevant authorities, but the situation remains the same.
The frustrated man is wondering what to do next as he continues to seek help for himself and other workers who are afraid to come forward because of the threat of victimization or losing their jobs.
The workers had queried: How a foreign Company can be allowed to work in Guyana without the relevant documents? How can a company pay workers without a pay slip? How can a foreign company be allowed to rob Guyanese workers by deducting monies for NIS and taxes and do not remit same to the relevant agencies. How can the relevant agencies, when alerted of the situation, state that they cannot do anything about the situation?
“These same enforcement agencies are running down and carrying Guyanese to court for meagre offences, but seem hopeless to harness a foreign company that is running loose,” one of the disgruntled workers remarked.

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