El Dorado Offshore (EDO), the local subsidiary of Ramps Logistics, has said all the seamen it has recruited for ExxonMobil are Guyanese, despite allegations that it had been favouring Trinidadian applicants.
A statement last week from non-governmental organisation Policy Forum Guyana (PFG) said workers from the Guyana Seafarer’s and General Workers’ Union (GS&GWU) had made allegations that “Ramps Logistics, which is subcontracted by ExxonMobil to hire seamen for its oil rig,” has displayed discriminatory practices in favour of Trinidadian nationals.
According to the PFG, more than 30 members of the union showed up to a recent open space meeting at the New Amsterdam Technical Institute to register their concerns. The initial intention of the forum was for the residents to be provided with a space to their opinions on how oil revenues could be best used to create a future that all Guyanese could promote.
According to the statement, among the claims made by the seamen were that Trinidadians were being hired over Guyanese, even when the Guyanese applicants are more qualified; that Trinidadians are paid more than Guyanese workers for the same work being done and that they are also being paid in foreign currency; that there are preferential travel arrangements made for Trinidadian workers; that Trinidadians are exempt from paying taxes; and, finally, that the Trinidadian seamen are granted lengthier contracts (three-month contracts, as against the 28-day contracts that are reportedly issued to Guyanese seamen, and which dictate that they spend 28 days off sea following the month spent on the oil rig).
Speaking to Stabroek News yesterday, Natasha Jairam-Abai, Manpower and Recruitment Director for EDO, clarified that Ramps Logistics is not involved in the contracting and hiring of seamen.
She noted, however, that EDO has been responsible for recruitment but she added that the claims highlighted by PFG, whether directed to her company or not, are completely untrue since its full complement of 140 seamen are all Guyanese.
“We’ve seen the allegations and I have no idea where they came from because we have over 140 workers at El Dorado Offshore and they are all Guyanese. All. We do not have any Trinidadians working with us. When the allegations were made, I was taken by surprise because I am trying to understand why they are even saying they are being subjected to that,” Jairam-Abai explained.
She noted that since EDO is a Guyanese company, employing Guyanese is its first preference and while applications have been received from several Trinidadian nationals, all were redirected to the office that they recently opened in Trinidad and Tobago.
“El Dorado Offshore was birthed in Guyana to meet the needs and demands for the oil and gas industry with respect to the local content policy,” Jairam-Abai added.
The PFG statement said the union members claimed that while jobs are advertised in the newspapers, when Guyanese apply, they rarely get picked. Advertised jobs include able-bodied seamen (AB), ordinary sailors (OS), captains, mates, engineers and riggers.” Many Guyanese seafarers qualified in all of these positions, with years of experience in the oil industry in the Caribbean and the Middle East are not getting jobs,” the statement said, while pointing out that there are reportedly approximately 2,000 qualified seamen in the New Amsterdam area.
PFG added that it was agreed that the union would provide the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) with documentary evidence to corroborate the allegations levelled against the company.
However, Jairam-Abai emphasised that Ramps Logistics does not hire seamen and all who have been hired so far by EDO are Guyanese.
“Because we are a local company we give the locals first priority and that is one of the requirements of all of our clients. Their first preference is always that they want locals. Unless they are speaking about another company, Ramps [Logistics] do not hire seamen and El Dorado Offshore and Onshore employees are all Guyanese,” she said, while adding that their current set up and policy of employing Guyanese will remain the constant.