Labour office to address labour, exploitation issues in Upper Mazaruni

A new labour office and training centre will be established in the Upper Mazaruni district, (Region Seven) to help resolve labour and exploitation issues in the district.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, M.P., made the disclosure recently following reports from residents about employers’ refusal to pay monies owed.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, M.P.

“Many Amerindian communities, if not all of them are struggling this way.  Contractors coming into communities to cut wood or other activities, they take people and carry them to work and then they do not pay them, and I am talking about lots of monies,” he said.

According to Minister Hamilton, the office will enable timely responses to labour-related matters, workplace accidents and health risks, and other issues. He said the village councils have a responsibility to safeguard workers’ rights, and wellbeing through a written contract.

A section of residents in Kamarang

“We can only resolve this matter one way; not by gaff or by shedding tears, but you have to give me the power to resolve the matter, and the way to do so is to have a written document,” he noted. As such, he offers to provide a one-day workshop with interested councils to learn how to prepare a contract to protect their people.

In 2021, the ministry was able to recover some $38.2 millions owed to employees for salaries, annual leave, overtime payments and severance. So far, for 2022, almost $14 million has been recouped for employees unfairly treated.

The labour ministry is making arrangements to appoint a Board of Industrial Training (BIT), Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) officers for the district.

“We have already set up a sub-office in Bartica with a labour, co-operative, OSH and BIT officer there, and now we are making arrangements for BIT and OSH officers for Kamarang so you do not have to look for us (government) because we will be here soon to provide these services,” the minister said.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, M.P. listening to the concerns of a resident in Kamarang.

The office, he said, brings government one step closer to achieving its commitment to decentralising its services, across the country.

Since assuming office in August 2020, the ministry has expanded its reach across the country, through increasing the number of  labour and OSH officers.

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