by Ayana George

– workers’ rights and facilitation of inspections by Labour and Occupational Safety and Health Offices discussed

Ensuring there is equal pay for local workers in the Oil and Gas sector is a priority for the Ministry of Labour.

To this end, Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton, today met with representatives of the oil company ExxonMobil to discuss payment of Guyanese workers and adherence to local labour laws.

Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton and representatives of ExxonMobil at the Minister’s office at Brickdam.

Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton in discussion with a representative of ExxonMobil

I expect “that workers must be paid equal pay for equal jobs and I have indicated to ExxonMobil that there are allegations in the industry that expatriate employees are presently being paid more than Guyanese employees,” Minister Hamilton told DPI.

The Labour Minister said he learnt that the allegations often referred to their sub-contractors. “I have said to them, you have an obligation and responsibility to ensure that the sub-contractors and contractors follow the principle of equal job-equal pay,” he emphasised.

The other matter raised by the Minister was the ability of workers to form unions, which the Constitution of Guyana allows.

“They have to facilitate the employees to be unionised if they want to be unionised, to join unions if they want to, or if they just want to have workers representative organisation within the company. So that their interests can be represented to the company,” Minister Hamilton noted.

He posited that rather than having all the workers meeting with the manager to address issues, it was more prudent to have an organisation that met with management quarterly or monthly to work out any unresolved matters. Hence the need for unions

The Labour Ministry is investigating the allegations and seeking ways to resolve the matter amicably.

The facilitation of Labour and Occupational Health and Safety officers to conduct inspections both offshore and onshore was also discussed.

The Minister disclosed that “Exxon has a department that deals with these matters in the industry and we will have them sit down at the technical level with our people – that is Labour Department and with the Occupational Health and Safety Department. So, that they can together work out the protocols, how this will happen and I indicated to them, I need for this to happen expeditiously.”

The Minister hinted that there may be a need for more training since the Occupational Health and Safety have been trained for land-based assessments. He added that very soon the Chief Labour Officer, Mr. Charles Ogle will be meeting with representatives of ExxonMobil to begin developing protocols, concerning visitation on the offshore vessels and training.

Minister Hamilton noted that this will be the first in a series of engagements he will be holding with all the companies in the Oil and Gas sector in Guyana.

By admin