Amerindians urged to demand contracts from employers to avoid exploitation
Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton has urged Amerindian leaders to demand contracts for workers leaving the villages to work in the mining, forestry and other sectors.
The Minister was at the time speaking to residents of Capoey village on the Essequibo Coast, during a recent two-day outreach to Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam).
He was accompanied by Chief Executive Officer of the Board of Industrial Training, Mr. Richard Maughn and Region Two Technical Officers, Mr. Mohammed Shaheed and Mr. Lokenauth Rooplall and other officials.
During the interactive session in the village benab, Toshao Ralph Hendricks expressed concerns about miners entering their village and recruiting and exploiting villagers. He said persons would leave their families to go and work for months without pay.
Minister Hamilton said the issue has engaged the attention of the Ministry. He said it would be difficult to recover the money owed to the workers, since there is no contractual agreement between the worker and employer.
“That is the issue. As eager as you want to work, the Minister and the Labour department can only act based on a contractual obligation that you have. We can’t investigate ‘he seh, she seh.’ That’s the fundamental issue.”
He called on the village council to draft contracts and have both the employers and employees sign and agree to the terms regarding job specification and renumeration. Minister Hamilton said his Ministry is willing to provide technical assistance in that regard.
“If the council needs the type of technical advice and input, the Board of Industrial Training is prepared to lend a hand to assist you in how you do contracts, how you make contracts because we have labour officers in this region but the officer cannot properly investigate the matters,” he said.
Last year alone, the Ministry’s Labour department was able to recover over $19 million for workers through the court system.