Following a flurry of press on the reasons government gave for the non-hiring of Guyanese workers at the Marriott hotel worksite at Kingston, CEO of Atlantic Hotels Inc Winston Brassington has declined to give an explanation of his recent statements justifying the arrangement.
Brassington, in a brief telephone conversation with Stabroek News yesterday, stressed that he had already said what he had to say and does not need to say anything else following the heated debates in the public about the issue.
Observers have questioned the validity of the response of Brassington of a few days ago – that a better contract price had been contingent on the contractor having the flexibility to hire who they wanted – saying that it does not make sense. Brassington had also stated that the Chinese were more skilled and that issue of language barrier would not exist with the current arrangement.
Those observers wanted to know whether the labour charges for paying the Guyanese workers would have amounted to the difference in cost between the original sum of US$65 million and the final figure of US$51 million – a difference of US$14 million.
The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) in a statement last week cried foul at the government for the Chinese only worker arrangement said that this was a clear violation of the rights of Guyanese workers and the country sovereignty.
Brassington in a statement last week to the Government Information Agency (GINA) said that one of the conditions of the contract with Shanghai Construction Group – the contractor building the Marriott Hotel – is that the company would supply its own labour. He said that this was meant to ensure the project’s speedy completion.
According to Brassington, the construction company said it could lower its contract cost provided it could bring its own labour.
Brassington said that despite being put to public tender, only two companies submitted bids for the hotel’s construction. “This was after 23 firms initially indicated their interest and seven were shortlisted,” he said in a GINA press release last week.
He said too that Shanghai Construction Group’s initial bid, the lower of the two bidding companies, was US$65 million and it was able to lower the cost to US$51 million with the condition that it was able to control who it employs at the site.
He said Shanghai Construction Group examined the level of skills available for the project as well as the levels of productivity. Brassington noted that while the company was asked to employ locals, it was obvious that if the construction of the flagship hotel was to be completed within the specified time, it must have the flexibility of the inputs. He said that the company would be complying with Guyana’s laws and norms.
Brassington also gave a televised statement in which he marvelled at the level of productivity of the Chinese workers and said that what they have achieved so far at the Marriott construction site must be recognised as some kind of record for speed of construction.
Noting that the workers on the site are but temporary and will leave once the construction is completed, he said that with the hotel in operation some 200 Guyanese will be employed on a permanent basis.