Guyana Manganese Inc. (GMI) workers are complaining that not only are their working conditions “abominable” but they are being sidelined in favour of foreigners.
This report is coming from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU).
In a press release Thursday, the union body said GMI workers contacted them through their outreach activities.
“The workers reached out to GAWU to express their dismay over what they described as their abominable conditions-of-work,” the release stated.
It added: “Our Union has learnt from the workers, that it appeared that the GMI was actively sidelining them in favour of foreigners. They shared that many tasks being undertaken by foreigners could be done by locals but inexplicably they are denied such opportunities. They felt that it seemed the company was seeking for them to leave the employ. Additionally, the workers lamented the housing conditions and provision of meals for those who resided outside of the community. They pointed out that the foreigners enjoyed adequate housing and appropriate meals. Whereas in their case the situation left a lot to be desired.”
The GAWU said the workers were also upset by the “attitude and demeanour of particular supervisors who treated them disdainfully”.
In addition, skilled employees were reportedly being asked to undertake tasks “well below their skillset”.
The GAWU explained further: “They said they found this demeaning especially considering extensive training they would have undergone. Workers indicated too that they have learnt that their statutory deductions were not being paid over to the relevant agencies. Moreover, we have learnt that other commitments to the workers and the community prior to the company’s establishment have simply ignored.
“The GAWU is disturbed by the treatment of the workers and the community. Our Union reiterates that all firms must respect workers rights and treat them with dignity. It is simply unbelievable that firms are seeking to benefit from our natural wealth yet fail to uphold even the basic rights of our workers, and people.
“Our Union stands with the workers and is prepared to continue to champion their call for their rights to be upheld and for them to enjoy decent work. We encourage GMI workers to continue to engage us in order for to better understand their plight and be able to highlight the difficulties they are facing.”