Apr 23, 2015 Letters
The construction and opening of the Marriott Hotel in Guyana has been shrouded in controversy, and so it is not a surprise that information on this issue continues to be circulated. One such piece caught my attention, and raises several serious questions.
I am referring to a YouTube video entitled “REAL Undercover – The Marriott Hotel Guyana” that was posted on April 20, 2015 shortly after the grand opening of the name-brand hotel in Guyana. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioIaxZPT-Xc)
Any fair-minded person watching this video would wonder what the Government of Guyana was thinking when it agreed to the terms of this construction project. The hotel is still under construction and is still being worked by mainly Chinese labour.
Why did the Government not insist on a percentage of Guyanese unskilled labour that could have helped at least a handful of young men in Guyana? Instead, we see only a Chinese labour force doing basic brickwork and other tasks that Guyanese are well qualified to do. This is an outrage and a total disrespect for the entire Guyanese society. It is yet another clear indication that this Government is not looking out for its people.
The video shows the toilet facilities built for the Chinese workers. Perhaps that is the reason why no Guyanese have been employed, as I don’t think any sane Guyanese would tolerate that. There are no toilets for the workers. The workers do their stuff in a concrete drain and that is then washed into the ocean….And guess where it goes? Yes, onto the artificial beach where people are likely to be walking bare-footed. I wonder if the folks with the Marriott franchise are aware of this. This, I do not believe, is within Marriott-accepted standards as no one-star hotel in any other country will even think of allowing something like this.
The issues raised by what is shown in this video involve among others, environmental concerns, labour laws and health and safety rules. Guyana has been touting its adherence to high environmental standards, yet the Government is allowing raw sewage to be dumped directly into the ocean. This clearly nullifies any achievement that may have been made in this area.
Then we have the labour issues. What are the working conditions for the Chinese employed on this project? What are their salaries, and are they paid wages consistent with the laws of Guyana?
It appears that there must have been a cost-of-labour factor that allowed for only Chinese workers to be employed, and if so, they may be paid wages that violate our laws. Can the Minister of Labour confirm what these Chinese workers are paid, or is that information classified for national security reasons?
We also have the questions of health, not only for the Chinese workers, but also for Guyanese children who may innocently be playing on that brand new beach, and would be vulnerable to diseases such as Gastroenteritis which is highly contagious. This deadly virus is spread either by contact with other infected persons, or by coming into direct contact with human feces. That raw sewage may expose somebody’s child to this deadly disease. Is the Minister of Health so callous that he will completely ignore this risk?
While the Marriott controversy raises several concerns, some of which may need to be brought to the attention of international non-governmental organizations for action, some of the questions should make every Guyanese – whether or not they support the PPP/C – ask if this is what they want for the country?
It is often said that “actions speak louder than words”. We must look at what the Government is doing today to determine what it is likely to do tomorrow. Incumbent parties like the PPP/C are judged not by what they say they will do, but by what they are currently doing.
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