Noting the discovery of the 13th deposit of oil by ExxonMobil, the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) has lamented that Guyanese still have no idea how they will benefit from this resource.
In a statement yesterday, the GTUC said that despite the latest find in the Stabroek Block and the already declared five billion barrels of oil “Guyanese workers have no clear understanding or guideline how they are expected to foremost benefit from these resources that belong to them. Outside of announcements as to profit sharing between government and the oil companies and sweeping statements the revenue would be directed towards improving social services, citizens/workers have nothing concrete to hold on to.”
The GTUC said it is on record as calling for the government-prepared Local Content Policy to be reviewed by stakeholders with the aim of having it become more inclusive and finally put into law.
“In our 5th March publicly announced nineteen-point proposal, outlining a menu of measures to forge the constitutional political system of inclusionary democracy, we called for this. Letters of our desire were dispatched to President David Granger and Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo. To date nether Government nor Opposition has made any move to activate this crucial and important aspect of our development that would assure local labour and businesses they stand to gain and be protected”, the GTUC said.
The GTUC said that it is evident that politicians see the next General and Regional Elections as the mother of all elections, primarily because oil and gas are expected to flow in 2020.
“The workers of this country have various political association, a basic right that must be respected, but what they are wary of is that the enjoyment of said right could present a climate where they could be excluded/ from/discriminated against selling their labour, actively participating and benefitting from the sector”, the GTUC added.
It said that there are already allegations of discriminatory practices in preference of one group over the other by local contractors involved in the sector. Similar charges, it said, have already been made about the public and private sectors. It said that to take the allegations lightly in a racially fractured and polarised society is to set the basis to see the intensifying of tension and clashes amongst groups. The country, it said, needs Equal Opportunity Laws as a matter of principle and urgency.
“People are already staking claims that they stand a chance to benefit. Where expectations are not met disgruntlement and its attendant fallouts will follow. Now is the time for a national plan, the facilitating of diverse views on how Guyanese can benefit and must be allowed to participate. GTUC reiterates concern that citizens are being made to feel the national focus is singularly on elections and nothing can happen until after”, the GTUC added.