Minister of Labour Joseph Hamilton has told officials of the ExxonMobil company that his Ministry will be pushing to ensure there is equal pay for local workers in the oil and gas sector and that they be allowed to join a union.
Hamilton met on Wednesday with the President of ExxonMobil Guyana, Alistair Routledge and expressed concern about complaints that have been received at the Labour Department about local workers not being paid the same as foreign workers although they were doing the same job.
“I expect that workers must be paid equal pay for equal jobs and I have indicated to ExxonMobil that there are allegations in the industry that expatriate employees are presently being paid more than Guyanese employees,” Minister Hamilton said in an interview after the meeting.
Although much of the hiring for ExxonMobil and its operations in Guyana is done by sub-contractors, the Labour Minister said he believes the company has an obligation and responsibility to ensure that the sub-contractors and contractors follow “the principle of equal job-equal pay”.
Hamilton also said the issue of unionisation for workers in the oil and gas sector came up for discussion in the meeting.
“They have to facilitate the employees to be unionised if they want to be unionised, to join unions if they want to, or if they just want to have workers representative organisation within the company. So that their interests can be represented to the company,” the Minister said.
More than half of Exxon’s current workforce are Guyanese nationals.
Last year, there was a call by veteran trade unionist, Lincoln Lewis for workers in the oil and gas sector to start looking at joining a trade union.
He said he has received complaints and concern from many of the workers in the past few years.
The new Minister of Labour has indicated that he believes it would be best for workers to have a representative body to address their concerns rather than to be addressing those concerns with their managers.