Jan 01, 2022 News
Kaiweteur News – The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) is again flagging the unfair circumstances which Guyanese are forced to endure in the oil sector, at the hands of the leaders of the country.
In what it described as “exploitation” and “heartlessness” in its end of year reflection yesterday, the union pointed out that during 2021 it was able to establish its Oil and Gas Branch, which has been approached by workers from several enterprises in the sector.
It was during interactions with these workers, the union said, it learnt that employees are not benefitting from overtime payments, as required by law, and even more so, that workers were being denied their right to unionisation.
“Through our fraternal relations with the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) of Trinidad and Tobago we shockingly learnt that Guyanese workers received 10 times less pay than their colleagues in the neighbouring twin-island republic,” the union told the media.
It noted too that a worrying trend has plagued the sector, whereby labour is being imported to carry out functions such as drivers, mechanics, and other allied skills. In fact, the union said it was shocked to learn that at one firm, even the office assistant was a foreign national.
“Apart from taking the jobs of locals, the foreigners, we understand, are receiving conditions-of-employment that are superior to locals. This is patently discriminatory, and we consider disrespectful to Guyanese,” the workers union contended.
It said that while foreign workers are reportedly benefitting from housing, subsistence, and other allowances, Guyanese receive nothing of the sort.
“Worse yet it appears that many of the foreigners engaged have not received permission to work in Guyana yet are allowed employment without even paying income taxes to the State. We are unaware of whether immigration officials are aware of such developments though locals shared with us that, it appeared, these companies operate with impunity and no fear of repercussion,” the union informed.
GAWU said that it is aware that Government is seeking to address such occurrences through the enactment of the local content legislation and thus it welcomes this development.
It, however, noted that for the legislation to have true meaning it must be enforced and its schedules renewed regularly to ensure increased Guyanese participation in the sector.
According to the workers’ union, it has come to understand that some employees are being paid at the national minimum wage with their incomes augmented by allowances that can be withdrawn at a moment’s notice.
Back in October of this year, GAWU had reported that oil companies and their subcontractors have been replacing locals with foreigners to do driving, cleaning and other simple jobs.
The union stated that in trying to justify this act, the oil companies have reasoned that Guyanese lack the qualifications, skill and experience to undertake certain basic tasks.
However, according to GAWU, the tasks some of the companies have hired foreigners to do are not complicated and can be done by Guyanese.
The union called for the government to urgently investigate this matter.
Kaieteur News had also reported that some local workers were sent home by the Guyana Shore Base Inc. (GYSBI), a local company which boasts that 90 percent of its work force is Guyanese, allegedly because they had complained to the media that foreigners were being paid more than they to do the same job.
In 2019, an oil service company operating aboard the Liza Destiny Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, appeared to be using the job descriptions for some of its employees to pay foreign workers more than local workers for the same job.
Revealing this was attorney-at-law and current Member of Parliament, Sanjeev Datadin. He had made the disclosure while appearing on the Kaieteur Radio programme, Guyana’s Oil & You and stated, “You can’t discriminate on how much you pay locals versus how much you pay overseas people for the same job”.
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