Min. Hamilton inspects St. Mary’s Quarry
−inhumane working conditions reported
Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton on Tuesday conducted an impromptu visit to the St. Mary’s Quarry located in Bartica, Region Seven, to assess the company’s compliance with the labour laws.
While the senior management of the company was not on site at the time, Minister Hamilton along with Senior Labour Officers Mr. Prandatt Basdeo and Ms. Denise Duncan interacted with staff members who expressed their grievances over the current working conditions.
The employees complained of having to work 12-hour shifts, seven days each week without a day off or renumeration for overtime, and are limited to four days’ vacation leave. It was alleged that expatriates have a different contractual agreement, which allows them to have vacation leave and days off.
The workers also reported that they do not have proper protective gears and have inadequate bathroom and dining facilities on the worksite.
Minister Hamilton informed workers that their working conditions are in violation of the Labour Laws of Guyana. According to the law “the normal work week is legislated as 40 hours over not more than 5 days. Any hours of work beyond normal hours are remunerated as overtime.”
The Minister said he will be summoning the management of the company to engage them on the matter based on what was observed and what was reported by the employees.
“They will come for us to have a conversation and I will put these matters to them that I have observed and I was told and I will wait to hear their response, Minister Hamilton told the DPI.
He has issued a call for both local and foreign companies to respect and uphold the country’s labour laws.
“Let me say this to companies, and I will keep saying this to people, you have two options; either you obey the law and comply, or I call press conferences,” he said.
Minister Hamilton later visited the operations of the BK Quarry located at Teperu/Itabu along the Mazaruni River. Following a tour of the mines, he engaged the management on a number of issues.
The visits are part of a countrywide campaign to ensure companies are in compliance with the Laws of Guyana and that workers’ rights are protected. The ministry is in the process of placing Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) and Labour officers in Bartica to ensure companies comply with these regulations.