TUC welcomes release of Exxon contract

-stresses paramountcy of constitution

The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) yesterday welcomed the release of the contract between Guyana and ExxonMobil and said this was made possible due to the unrelenting militancy of the Guyanese public.

It added that the Govern-ment’s response is not only indicative it can listen to the people but also testimony of what citizens can achieve.

The GTUC said in a press release that it is in the process of a detailed perusal of the document and calls on Guyanese to do likewise and remain engaged.  Aware that the contract has been signed and is binding between the two parties and that Labour’s opinion during the negotiations was not solicited, the GTUC said it looks forward to working with stakeholders, including Govern-ment, in policing the agreement.

“GTUC takes note of the Local Content Policy element in the contract and wishes to advice Government and ExxonMobil that the Constitution and Laws of Guyana must be paramount in the execution of the industry’s activities.

Labour must be employed and function in an environment respecting of fundamental rights and freedoms, including occupational safety and health standards.

“GTUC is also mindful that given Government has said it is pursuing a Green Economy the pillars upon which this policy is built- i.e. Environment, Labour policies and Sustainable development- must see accompanying programmes, the realisation and enforcement of laws to give true meaning. There are legitimate concerns the oil and gas industry is not necessarily mindful of practices that safeguard the environment and bring about sustainable development”, the umbrella trade union body said.

The statement added that Exxon Mobil is new to Guyana and the GTUC while not unmindful of its international reputation and relations with governments across the spectrum is prepared to give the company an opportunity to embrace best practices, “including corporate responsibility, treating our environment, citi-zens/workers with dignity and respect”.

That Guyana has become a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initia-tive, the GTUC said that it shall be monitoring the contract’s implementation to ensure consistency with the rules and standards set out therein.

“GTUC retains abiding interest in labour being engaged in productive activities and this means not only full employment but that of other economic opportunities, direct and indirect. To this end GTUC calls on Government to strengthen the infrastructure to track unemployment and employment levels and across the various industries and sectors. This must not only be  applicable to ensuring Exxon abides by the contract re Guyanese labour but that of an important factor in holistic development”, the statement added.  

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