The Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) said there is no regret in the decision to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union (OWTU).
This is the position of GAWU’s President Seepaul Narine after the President of the Guyana Oil and Gas Energy Chamber (GOGEC), Manniram Prashad, expressed concern over the signing of the MOU.
GOGEC had expressed concern over the signing of the MOU, claiming that there are good industrial practices in the oil and gas sector, adding that the Ministry of Labour has been closely monitoring the industry.
However, Narine dubbed the criticism from GOGEC as “worrisome” and said, “I think it’s unwanted and a misunderstanding on their part.”
The Union Head noted that the agreement was signed to strengthen the representation of workers within the local oil and gas sector, whom he highlighted are being “exploited.”
With this in mind, Narine boasted of the experience that the OWTU has when it comes to representing workers within the oil and gas sector. The OWTU has been representing workers for over 80 years.
According to the GAWU President, workers in the oil and gas sector are constantly raising concerns about being exploited; therefore, this agreement will strengthen GAWU’s knowledge with representation.
“The point that they were objecting to about GAWU going to represent these workers and calling for us to reconsider our position. What is there to reconsider? If workers need representation, they need genuine representation, and GAWU is known for that,” Narine remarked.
Furthermore, Narine contends that the MOU was signed in the “best interest of the country, in the interest of our Guyanese workers, and we believe it is going to help have some decency within the oil and gas sector.”
According to law, GAWU can only apply for certification when at least 40 percent of the workforce is a member of the union, and Narine hopes to unionise workers as soon as possible.
In the meantime, GAWU has been relying on the Ministry of Labour to engage oil companies in breach of law.