See the below statement from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU):
It is widely recognised that workers and their families are facing serious constraints arising from the substantial hike in the cost of living.
Notwithstanding efforts by policymakers to provide breathing room, the ascension of prices remains steep for many important and essential commodities and services.
In this regard, some enterprises, we are aware, have sought to alleviate their workers’ burdens by approving pay rises as they recognize the importance of their employees.
Undoubtedly it was against that background that a well-known foreign-owned oil sector company decided to improve pay rates for its employees.
Dismayingly, the GAWU Oil and Gas Branch was informed that the increases were only approved for that company’s expatriate staffers.
The locals, on the other hand, who comprise a significant proportion of the workforce were excluded from that company’s consideration.
The Guyanese employees informed our Union that they are at a loss for their exclusion. They shared with us that their foreign colleagues earn substantially more than them but inexplicably their salaries were insufficient thus necessitating the pay rise.
The workers were perplexed that if it was that the foreigners were receiving inadequate pay it did not take any serious examination to understand their situation.
The workers said they heard rumblings that the locals did not require any pay rises. They said from what they learnt their foreign bosses felt that their earnings were more than adequate, and a pay rise would represent essentially a favour.
The workers told GAWU they were simply appalled that their employer would engage in such demeaning thoughts. Some employees who have been there for several years to date have not received any rise in pay despite continuing to perform credibly.
The GAWU is deeply disturbed by the actions of the foreign enterprise. It represents yet another assault on Guyanese workers in the oil sector are confronting and further illustrates the need for the sector to be organized.
Of course, many foreign owned companies have adopted stringent anti-union policies and have sought to quell any efforts by workers to become unionized. This is not surprising given the exploitative practices perpetuated by some enterprises in the sector.
Some firms we have heard have sought to assure their workers that they have their interest at heart. This, of course, is a misnomer as only their bottom line is what really matters and workers becoming unionized seemingly represents a threat to profitability.
It is indeed a disheartening situation.