Labour Ministry recovers $19.2M for employees treated unfairly

Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton has said his Ministry was able to recover over $19.2 million for employees who suffered after their employers had breached the labour laws.

Minister Hamilton made this disclosure Tuesday during a press conference held at the Ministry’s boardroom.

Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton

He said the Ministry has received about 729 complaints since the PPP/C Administration took office up to May this year. Of that number, 477 complaints were filed in 2021.  These range from leave without pay, overtime, status of employment, deductions from wages and other infractions. 

“Complaints were investigated with a view of arriving at amicable settlement and so far, we have closed 640 of these matters and a total six charges were filed against delinquent employers for breach of the various labour legislation, and a total of six cases closed.

We have been able thus far since we have arrived here, to ensure that $19.2 million gets to the pocket of workers because of the recalcitration of employers.”

Minister Hamilton urged employers to observe Guyana’s Labour Act and its Occupational Health and Safety (OSH) regulations.

“If you don’t want to obey the law then believe me that it will become a thing recurring because our position is that everyone must obey the law, and the law says if you have a building constructing then there are things that you must do.”

Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton (centre), Permanent Secretary at the Ministry, Mr. Bishram Kuppen (left) and Board of Industrial Training (BIT) Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Richard Maughn (right).

He said legal action will be taken against business owners who fail to adhere to recommendations of the Ministry’s OSH Department.  

Minister Hamilton said while the Government is pro-business and encourages investments and job creation, these must be done in a manner that will ensure workers rights are protected and the country’s laws are upheld.

We don’t want to shut down any site as the Government’s position is that we are open for business, and that we support all developmental programmes in this country as well as the private sector.

But it must be done within the law and anytime it is not being done within the law, we will engage and hopefully, people follow the law. Once you follow, we will have less problems.”

The Ministry of Labour was re-established as a separate entity when the PPP/C returned to office in August 2020.

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