‘Categories of workers’ in the National Minimum Wage Order was sloppily prepared

Dear Editor,

The Order in respect of the National Minimum Wage for Regular Working Hours (for all workers in Guyana) should be of interest to employers, particularly the newcomers.
At Paragraph 5 of the Order published on Sunday June 2, 2013 reference is made to the Labour (Conditions of Employment of Certain Workers) Act No 18 of 1978 (Cap 99:03), as well as the Factories Act Cap 95:02.

Those unfamiliar with the first-named legislation should be advised that ‘worker’ refers to persons ‘wholly or mainly employed in any cookshop, discotheque, guesthouse, hotel, liquor restaurant, liquor store, nightclub, parlour, restaurant, retail spirit shop or tavern.’

Some of the ‘Conditions’ included in the Act and which should be more actively advised to relevant employers are the following sections:

“4. (1) Notwithstanding section 11 (d) and subject to sections 6 and 7 of the Shops (Consolidation) Act and notwithstanding section 5 of the Licensed Premises Act and subject to section 7 and 8 of the said Act and subsection (2) hereof, every worker who, at the request of his employer, works for any period exceeding seven and one-quarter hours in any one day, shall be paid in respect of every hour or part of and hour so worked in excess thereof at one and one half times the rate at which he should, but for this section, be paid.

(2) Except as otherwise provided under any law, every worker who is employed on a Sunday or a public holiday shall be paid a minimum of one and one-half times his hourly rate of pay for all hours worked on such days.

“5. Without prejudice to the provisions of sections 9 and 11 of the Shops (Consolidation) Act, the employer of any worker shall, on each working day, allow to such worker an interval from work of not less than one hour for luncheon or dinner, as the case may be, and when his duties require him to work overtime hours, the employer shall allow to such worker an interval of not less than one-quarter of an hour for the taking of a meal for ever four hours or part thereof worked as overtime.

“6. Without prejudice to the provisions of section 13 of the Shops (Consolidation) Act, the employer of workers shall provide a suitable room for the accommodation of workers during any intervals from work provided for by this Act.

“7. Every employer shall grant to every worker a holiday on one week-day in every week and, in addition, shall grant such worker a half-holiday on every alternate Sunday.

“8. (1) Every employer of workers shall keep a register in such form as the Minister may approve in which shall be entered –
(a) particulars of wages paid to workers employed by him;
(b) the date on which each worker entered his employment.
(2) Every such employer shall produce the register for the inspection of any officer of the Labour Department designated for the purposes of section 30 (1) of the Labour Act, when requested to do so.

“9. For every three waiters employed in any hotel by an employer a trainee-waiter shall be employed by him.

“10. (1) Every worker shall be supplied by his employer with at least one hot meal on every working day in addition to the appropriate wage payable to him under this Act.
“Provided that if a worker is employed in any
establishment which does not serve meals he employer shall pay him in lieu thereof, the cash value of any meal not supplied.

(2) The cash value of any meal not supplied shall be deemed to be the amount fixed as such by or under the terms of the worker’s employment, or if it is not so fixed, shall be as determined by the Chief Labour Officer.

(3) Where any worker is required to wear a uniform, such uniform shall be supplied and kept laundered, free of charge by his employer.
“11. Every employer of workers shall provide and maintain so as to be readily accessible a first-aid box or cupboard containing the appliances and requisites as specified in the Second Schedule:

“Provided that the Minister may, from time to time, by order which shall be subject to negative resolution of the National Assembly vary, alter or amend any of the particulars contained in the Second Schedule as he thinks fit.”

Of concern, however, is the sloppy preparation of Categories of Workers (on the right side of the Notice) which must clearly be an embarrassment to the subject minister.  Quite apart from the fact that no attempt was made to group together actual categories, nor even in a passable alphabetical order, one is affronted by the claim that the following are examples of ‘categories’ of workers:

Internet Service and Cafes; Schools; Machine Shop; Wash Bays; Wildlife Farms; Filling Stations; Drugstore/Pharmacy; Tailor Shop; Television; Field and factory operators in the agriculture and livestock sub-sectors including Heart of Palm, Coconuts, Crops and Livestock.

The tedious insult to education goes on, with just the following exceptions: Taxi Service Dispatchers; Machinists/Fabricators/Welders; Tour Guide Operators; Sawmill Workers; Lumber Yard Workers; Laundry Employees;  Canteen /Snackette Workers; Shirt & Garment Workers (?); Scrap Metal Workers; Cable Providers/Satellite TV (?); Agriculture/Gardeners. Then climatically “any other similar category of workers.”

What an onslaught on the sensibilities!

Yours faithfully,
E B John

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