The Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr Nanda Gopaul must be commended for his initiative to come up with a national minimum wage for the nation’s workers, in particular private sector employees, a significant number of whom are not unionized and are therefore left at the mercy of employers who at times are inclined to take advantage of their non-unionized status and pay them way below what is considered fair and reasonable.
Those working as domestics, security guards, waiters/waitresses in restaurants and bars and in stores as salesmen/saleswomen are particularly vulnerable. These categories of employees work sometimes way in excess of the normal work day but do not enjoy overtime pay or other premium time benefits such as working on weekends and on public holidays, in clear violation of the labour laws. In some cases, employer contributions are not made to the National Insurance Scheme which puts these workers and their families at risk in the event of injury or disability.
The move by the Labour Ministry to translate the Labour Act into Chinese is also commendable given the increasing number of Chinese investors in the country. The country needs foreign investment to create jobs and exploit our vast resources, but this must be done in a sustainable manner and in full conformity with the laws of Guyana. I am certain that similar consideration would be given in due course to other foreign nationals who do business in Guyana so as to eliminate any ambiguity in labour laws that could otherwise result.