An oil service company operating aboard the Liza Destiny Floating Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel appears to be using the job descriptions for some of its employees to pay foreign workers more than local workers for the same job. This is according to Attorney-at-Law, Sanjeev Datadin, who joined Kaieteur Radio last Thursday on Guyana’s Oil & You.
Datadin said that, “In fact, it’s one person working one shift and the other person working the other shift.”
“You can say it might be two different jobs” but as far as he can tell, the jobs are identical.
“That’s a factor that we have to carefully consider,” the attorney said.
He stressed that the law requires fairness and equality.
“You can’t discriminate on how much you pay locals versus how much you pay overseas people for the same job,” Datadin said, adding that making a contract of employment requires you to obey the laws that relate to that contract.
But some, he posited, tend to use innovative measures to attempt evasion of those statutes.
In any case, Datadin noted that an argument that could be made for paying certain foreigners higher salaries is the fact that they may be experienced. But he doubts that that applies in this case, as local workers have mostly been executing “housekeeping” jobs – as he puts it.
He said that that argument would only hold ground for jobs that require specialist training and/or experience.
“But for ordinary chores, it wouldn’t make much of a difference…You can’t tell me that you require any amount of years of experience in that field because that would be the areas where experience is not really a factor.”
Datadin also told Kaieteur Radio last Thursday that the worker, who is a client of his, is being paid below minimum wage.
Kaieteur News had reported that the worker, among others, is being paid a monthly salary of ($70,000). Though that is well above the minimum wage for an eight-hour work-day, the individual is on board 24/7, effectively working all day.
The employee said he is asked to stay one month aboard the ship, with no allowances.
Workers have also been complaining of having their WiFi cut after hours.
“We are being told to work 28 days and for a low pay. We have to service. Then you cut the WiFi. How can we talk to our families,” the worker had asked.
Datadin said that, not only is an employer required to pay employees at or above the minimum wage, but that there are also restrictions on the hours of continuous work an employee is required to put in, which should be respected.
Insiders say that comparisons to what persons working right in the region make, found shocking instances of how Guyanese workers are just not benefitting as expected.
Glaringly, a cook on a normal emergency vessel in Trinidad could take home at least TT$15,000 (US$2,214) fortnightly. This is 12 times what the worker aboard the Liza Destiny makes.
Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, had told Kaieteur Radio that he is definitely not happy that locals were getting far less than what Trinidadians for example are getting in their country. He said that the entire Government apparatus will be paying attention, including from the labour side of things.
Kaieteur News understands that while ExxonMobil paid the contractor, these benefits are not passed on to workers. The workers were paid a fraction.
Datadin had announced that he is preparing to sue the company, which he said was operating like an employment agency, discriminating against Guyanese.
The Attorney intends to have the court make a key ruling that will speak to how Guyanese oil workers are being paid.
He posited that if a legal ruling is made on all of these issues as it relates to equality, fair treatment and anti-discrimination, it would set the right precedent for the treatment of local workers.
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