Policy to be developed to address workers safety, pay in mining industry

Minister of Labour, Hon. Joseph Hamilton says his Ministry will be looking at developing a policy that deals specifically with workers health, safety and pay within the mining sector.

Speaking at a regional engagement in Region Two on Monday, Minister Hamilton said there is an alarming number of complaints about employees not being paid.

“It will not be tolerated; people ought not be taken advantage of when they go into the interior to work. We have been having scores of reports, people come regularly to complain… so, we have to first set a mechanism and methodology in place to deal with it. Presently, that doesn’t exist.”

In the interim, the Ministry has started consultations with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) on how they could collaborate to tackle the issue, particularly among small-scale miners in Regions One, Seven, Eight and Nine.  

The Ministry will also be recruiting Labour and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Officers to be stationed in those regions.

“The issue of payment and labour is one thing, but we also have another issue where people [are] dying in the mining pits and we have to bring an end to this. At the end of the day, I want to make sure that we can protect the rights of workers regarding payments and regarding their lives and their limbs,” he added.  

Similar complaints have been levied against large mining companies and the Ministries of Labour and Natural Resources will be investigating them.

“The law must be standard and cut across the board, the same way how I treat small miners, I will treat big miners,” Minister Hamilton emphasised.

The long-term solution, he posited, will be the amendment of labour and OSH regulations to further safeguard workers.

Minister Hamilton said discussions are taking place at the Ministry on how the laws could be amended so that a legislative agenda could be presented to the Attorney General Chambers.

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