President David Granger is of the view that there is no need for the Ministry of Labour to be re-established, stating that the labour portfolio is appropriately placed under the Ministry of Social Protection which covers a broad area.
Speaking on his weekly television programme, “The Public Interest” aired on Friday, the Head of State said if he felt there was a need for a Ministry of Labour then he would have created one.
“I think the labour portfolio is well placed. I think the duties within the Ministry of Social Protection are clearly defined and had made it clear why I felt that the name social protection is more appropriate,” he stated.
According to the Head of State, the idea behind putting labour under this ministry is to ensure the protection of workers. “When a worker dies in the mines, I feel injured and I want to see the Ministry of Social Protection, protecting workers. If a worker is treated unfairly in a foreign company; be it a timber or mining company, it’s social protection,” the President stated on the programme.
However, trade unions in Guyana are of a different belief with many of them calling for the establishment of a substantive Labour Ministry.
Only Monday last, the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG) had reiterated the need for a ministry of labour.
The umbrella unions noted that with labour being reduced to a mere department, workers do not have an equitable chance of their rights being adequately represented since there seems to be a disjointed ministry for this purpose.
GTUC’s General Secretary Lincoln Lewis had indicated that this was the first time the country is without a Labour Ministry. “What we are looking forward to is a Ministry of Labour, a ministry that addresses labour issues” he stated.
With the Labour Ministry eliminated from this government, Lewis said this shows there is no emphasis placed on workers and more so a representation for their rights. This situation also resulted in less engagement with the labour movement and as such, there is a reduced chance of having consultations and discussions to address issues within the sector.