Guyana union voices concern of local workers being sidelined over expats for oil sector jobs

GAWU strongly supports local content legislation to secure decent jobs for Guyanese 

GEORGETOWN, GUYANA — A local union is calling for “urgent attention” to what it claims are instances of foreign workers being hired over Guyanese citizens in the oil sector, asserting that locals are more than qualified to fill those roles.

The Guyana Agricultural & General Workers Union (GAWU) Oil and Gas Branch, in a statement, said it 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 which Guyanese can undertake,” the union claimed.

Guyana Agricultural & General Workers Union (GAWU) members holding a meeting.

Citing job positions such as drivers, mechanics, artisans and general labourers, GAWU stressed, “In all instances, we believe Guyanese possess the requisite skills and experience but are being sidelined in favor of foreigners.”

However, the union acknowledged that Minister of Public Works Deodat Indar has recently encouraged “displaced and highly competent workers from the sugar industry…to take up employment in the burgeoning oil sector”, and it noted the government’s legislative efforts to ensure the employment of Guyanese.

GAWU said, “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.

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    “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 [and] 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.”

    Separately, Ozzi Warwick of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU) of Trinidad & Tobago echoed GAWU’s sentiments, noting that the oil sector is expected to bring substantial wealth to Guyana but highlighting that “we must ensure that the direct beneficiary has to be firstly those who produce this wealth…that is, the workers themselves, and then all of the Guyana people”.

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