The newly registered General Contractors Association of Guyana (GCAG) has pledged to work to create an environment in which “quality, honesty and fairness” become watchwords in the sector and where its members are “consistently compliant in the tender process.”
But at a brief meeting at the office of Minister in the Ministry of Social Protection Simona Broomes on Tuesday, where the association received its certificate of registration, the minister told a small group of executive members that it was the wish of government that the “new environment” which the association says it is seeking to create includes “a strict adherence to the codes and practices associated with safety and health at the workplace,” as well as “the highest levels of respect for workers’ rights and entitlements.”
Afterwards, Broomes told Stabroek Business that her urging to the GCAG was in keeping with the efforts which the Department of Labour was making under the new administration to ensure that the concerns that have arisen in the construction sector, among others, including those associated with workplace safety and workers’ entitlements are removed. “I thought it might do no harm to remind the executive of the GCAG of what the ministry expects of its members in the course of their operations,” Broomes said.
A Code of Ethics promulgated by the GCAG undertakes to change the atmosphere of the construction industry in Guyana and to “cooperate fully with safety regulations and with allied organizations to promote an accident-free workplace.”
The establishment of the GCAG coincides with the recent significantly increased focus by the Ministry of Social Protection on workplace safety and observance of safety rules. At last Tuesday’s meeting with the GCAG executive, including Chairman Aubrey Jones and Secretary Neil Cort-Rogers, Broomes said it was the expectation of the Social Protection Ministry that the association’s members would lead the way in ensuring safe worksites including having workers equipped with the relevant safety gear.
The GCAG disclosed that part of its plan was to seek to create a service through which contractors and workers could have access to safety gear.
Meanwhile, and in keeping with its undertaking to ensure that its members are “compliant with the tender process,” the GCAG says it intends to provide the expertise to support those members requiring assistance in submitting tenders to the National Procurement and Tender Administration Board (NPTAB) as well as advocating adherence to practices that would ensure National Insurance Scheme and Guyana Revenue Authority compliance, two key requirements of the NPTAB.
The GCAG said it will also be pushing for the introduction of building courses at local learning institutions and “lobbying for the introduction of a certificate course in health, safety and the environment.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Broomes said the ministry was prepared to utilize its expertise to support the efforts to educate GCAG members on key labour laws including those associated with safety and health. “One of the concerns which the ministry has is with ensuring that contractors and owners of companies are themselves aware of what the law says in relations to these issues,” she said.