Guyanese accuse T&T company of discriminatory hiring practices

Oil and gas industry

About 30 Guyanese seafarers have vented their concerns over the recent move by ExxonMobil subcontractor, Ramp’s Logistics, to hire Trinidadians instead of Guyanese to work on the oil rig.
The discrimination was raised at the recent Policy Forum Guyana (PFG) open space meeting on oil and gas, held at the New Amsterdam Technical Institute, where members of the Guyana Seafarer’s and General Workers Union (GS&GWU) protested against actions of the Trinidadian company.
The event was hosted to give the public the opportunity to express their opinions on how the oil revenues can be utilised to benefit all Guyanese.
One of the main issues raised by the GS&GWU was the concern that the sub-contractor is recruiting Trinidadians over Guyanese who meet the job requirement.
They highlighted that the vacancies were advertised in the newspapers for able-bodied seamen (Ab), ordinary sailors (OS), captains, mates, engineers and riggers. According to the Union, while many skilled Guyanese had applied for these positions, they are rarely picked. The GS&GWU claimed that some 2000 qualified seamen are available in New Amsterdam alone.
Guyana Times is told on Wednesday that the company has denied the allegations saying that it has in fact hired over 70 per cent Guyanese.
Earlier this year, the Union had written to Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Greenidge about the alleged discrimination which was transpiring. They believe Trinidadians are being hired on more favourable terms than the Guyanese and are being paid higher for the same quality of work.
Additionally, the other issue revolves around the payment and non-payment of taxes; payments in foreign currencies and preferential travel arrangements for foreigners.
The Union also disclosed that these persons are allowed to work in Guyana without possessing a Guyanese work permit, whereas all Guyanese seamen are required to obtain a work permit as a condition of permission to obtain employment in Trinidad.
In a recent incident which is dubbed as an act to “disparage” locals, a seaman in New Amsterdam received a call to ‘immediately’ visit the Georgetown office. However, when he arrived, he was told his job had gone to a Trinidadian and he was not hired, the union alleged.
At the conclusion of the discussions in New Amsterdam, it was assured that evidence to substantiate the allegations would be provided to the Guyana Human Rights Association.
The allegations made by the GS&GWU has once again bring to the fore the issue of local content, which has been a very controversial matter since ExxonMobil discovered oil in Guyana.
It has been argued that primary aim of the local content policy should be to ensure the education, inclusion, and advancement of as many Guyanese as possible in the oil industry.
The draft local content policy has been criticised in recent months for lacking provisions which would safeguard against exploitation by companies, especially since there have been intensified reports of the local companies being bypassed for contracts and services with foreign companies being favoured.
According to the draft local content framework document, the policy seeks to address the suite of opportunities that may arise and the approaches to be taken in selecting and developing opportunities related to enhancing the capabilities of Guyanese nationals and businesses through training and well-tailored social contributions for greater impact and benefits among others.
Earlier this year, following the closing of the inaugural Guyana International Petroleum Business Summit (GIPEX), the Private Sector Commission (PSC) vowed to continue pushing for an effective local content policy that would benefit all Guyanese.
The second review of the local content policy is expected to be completed by the first quarter of next year.