GAWU says foreign workers displacing Guyanese in oil and allied sectors

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The GAWU Oil and Gas Branch, through its regular interaction with workers of the oil sector was simply aghast to learn of the level of foreign involvement to the detriment of our own Guyanese. While almost in a knee-jerk fashion it is said that Guyanese lack qualification, skill, and experience to undertake certain tasks in an effort to justify expatriate labour, we have learnt that some firms have employed foreign labour for tasks that Guyanese can undertake. For instance, we learnt a well-known foreign company has recruited foreign nationals as drivers, mechanics, and other trades. Another firm has employed foreigners to undertake labouring tasks. While another has imported labour to perform the tasks of artisans. In all instances, we believe, Guyanese possess the requisite skills and experience but are being sidelined in favour of foreigners. Just recently, we recollect, Minister within the Ministry of Public Works, Deodat Indar alluding to displaced and highly competent workers from the sugar industry being able to take up employment in the burgeoning oil sector.

Apart from the taking the jobs of locals, the foreigners, we understand, are receiving conditions-of-employment that are superior to locals. This is patently discriminatory, and we consider disrespectful to Guyanese. Additionally, foreign workers are reportedly benefitting from housing, subsistence, and other allowances while our Guyanese brothers and sisters receive nothing of the sort. Worse yet it appears that many of the foreigners engaged have not received permission to work in Guyana yet are allowed employment without even paying income taxes to the State. We are unaware of whether immigration officials are aware of such developments though locals shared with us that, it appeared, these companies operate with impunity and no fear of repercussion.

As the Government actively is addressing the enactment of Local Content legislation which seeks to speak to Guyanese involvement in the sector, this is a matter, we believe, that requires urgent attention. Our Union was heartened to have been asked to share its view on some aspects of the draft legislation. We have communicated our views to the Ministry of Natural Resources as we expressed our position on certain concerns. We are hopeful that our submission can be taken on board. The GAWU is highly supportive of local content. We contend, however, that local content cannot be a buzzworthy term, but it must have genuine and real meaning. We are of the firm view that local content legislation, policies and practices must seek to create decent jobs for Guyanese foremostly and for our people to enjoy the fruits of the sector and the benefits of our patrimony

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