Guyana’s political leaders committed to Occupational Safety and Health Practices

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Guyana’s political leaders are adamant about making the working environment a safe and healthy place for employees. After all, a government’s sustainability is dependent on a strong and well-maintained force of public servants.
The government has taken a number of measures to demonstrate their commitment to this cause. In 2012, for example, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) that held office at the time, ensured that its Ministry of Labor partnered with the International Labor Organization (ILO) to promote a better understanding of the methods, rules and regulations governing health and safety practices at workplaces.
This was facilitated through several successful workshops. They highlighted the former administration’s efforts to support occupational safety by enacting several pieces of legislation to ensure better treatment of workers by their employers. The legislation also ensures improved health practices in their working environment. Some of these include the “Holidays with Pay” and the “Occupational Safety and Health” acts, which have shown Guyana’s commitment to safeguarding the rights of employees.
Guyana also signed on to the I55 Occupational Safety and Health convention. The country’s laws are within the ambit of that convention. There has also been an increase in the number of safety inspectors. They are responsible for going out into the fields, since more emphasis is placed on mining and quarrying. This is because the interior locations continue to attract an influx of investments which pull hundreds of people. Laws have been implemented to ensure that workers’ rights are not trampled upon, and to ultimately ensure their safety. Workers were always encouraged to seek assistance from the then Labor Ministry to ensure an accident-free workplace.
Additionally, Dr. Yuka Ujita of the ILO stressed that while the mining sector is important to an economy and a nation’s development, there must be safe workplaces for that development to continue. He encourages workers to make use of the relevant legislation to safeguard their rights.
This would later see the announcement of a new 40-hour work-week. Former Labor Minister Dr. Nanda Gopaul had disclosed that there is to be a national five-day working week and employees were expected to work eight hours per day. He believed that such a move was necessary and would benefit over 30,000 workers countrywide. Coming from this new feature enacted in 2013, there would be certain leave entitlements in accordance with the other laws already in place.
There was also an agreement to ratify Convention 189 of the ILO and auxiliary legislations to protect domestic workers. Since Guyana signed on to the Convention, the then Labor Ministry, in collaboration with the then Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry, pursued regulations for the mining sector and has since made moves for its implementation.
It subsequently saw the installation of regulations for the forestry sector as governed by the occupational health and safety guidelines. Political leaders strongly believe that with continued support from the trade union movement in creating an atmosphere of security for workers, it could positively lead to the conduction of a series of exercises with employees and shop owners annually.
They believe that this is vital to apprise employers about their roles and responsibilities as it relates to the regulations that will come into being on the new minimum wage. Many of them also hold the view that once the groundwork is laid and the parameters are set, employers will fall in line.
Guyana’s leaders have committed to ensuring that employers are in strict compliance and that they understand their obligations as it relates to the regulations and labor laws in the country.
It is for this reason the former Labor Ministry conducted training with foreign employers by providing them with the relevant information and translating the labor laws into Portuguese and Chinese.
The current administration, A Partnership for National Unity plus Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) has taken the mantle from its predecessors, the PPP/C and has promised that it will continue to work with the social partners in this development drive, and reiterated its commitment to the promotion of decent work for all, a healthy environment and better working conditions.

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