Sep 25, 2021 News
…ordered to abide by Guyana Labour Laws, Constitution
Kaieteur News – Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, recently hauled in oil companies and ordered in no uncertain terms, that they abide by the Guyana Constitution and the country’s Labour Laws.
This course of action by the administration, comes on the heels of formal complaints lodged by the Guyana Agricultural & General Workers Union (GAWU) Oil and Gas Branch, which had complained to the Minister in September last, that “firms operating in the sector through varying measures were seeking to dissuade their workers from becoming unionised.”
The GAWU Oil and Gas Branch had contended that the policies of firms were, “from our perspective, an attempt to undermine workers’ rights, perpetuate exploitative practices, and seek to underpay and overwork them.”
According to the Union, “It was disturbing for GAWU that though workers have won the right to belong to Unions, local and foreign firms alike were seeking every conceivable means to attack that right. We held the restriction of workers freedom to association was part of a wider policy to trample on workers’ rights generally towards engaging them in oppressive conditions in attempt to enrich the owners.”
The union, as such, contends that the denial of workers freedom of association was a blatant violation of Guyanese constitutional right to belong to trade unions.
“It contravened the Trade Union Recognition Act. And it was a clear departure from the spirit and intent of ILO Convention 87. It represented, in our view, a highly detestable act and one which GAWU was deeply bothered about.”
Kaieteur News understands that the Ministry of Labour recently informed GAWU that the (delinquent) companies will remove the offensive elements from its paraphernalia. In its statement to the press it was noted that the Union has informed the workers of this victory and are heartened that workers’ rights were safeguarded.
According to GAWU, “We see the outcome as a dent in the armory of the oilocracy and firms are not as invincible as they may wish to believe.”
Only recently, the union had cause to lament the working conditions being experienced by some Guyanese employed in the industry and it was highlighted that in some cases that employees who are highly skilled and recipients of specialised training are paid at the national minimum wage of $255 per hour.
Contrastingly and “to illustrate the preposterousness, a school cleaner presently receives around $403 per hour,” the union highlighted.
To this end, the union body emphasised that while “a great deal of attention is paid to Guyanese participation in the sector, and the statistics may appear impressive on the surface, the reality is that oil sector workers are confronted by exploitative practices and, at times, demeaning relations.”
The union reiterated in its public missive yesterday that it “remains available to all workers who continue to confront exploitative practices and unlawful measures. Indeed, we stand in solidarity with the workers who seemingly are seen as a commodity which is cheaply available and easily replaceable rather than human beings whose efforts realise billions in profits for the owners and their hangers-on.”
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