GTUC condemns the use of prison labour for city clean up



prisoners[] – The Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) is protesting reports that the Guyana Prison Service has entered into a contract with the Ministry of Local Government to use prisoners on its “Clean-Up My Country” Programme.

According to the GTUC, this issue must be guided by internationally accepted principles which Guyana has embraced through the adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Forced Labour Convention No. 29.

“Article 2 of said convention expressly states at, “1. For the purposes of this Convention the term forced or compulsory labour shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.” It goes on to counsel at 2. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this Convention, the term forced or compulsory labour shall not include– c) any work or service exacted from any person as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law, provided that the said work or service is carried out under the supervision and control of a public authority and that the said person is not hired to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations.” 

“There is a relationship between the M&CC and two trade unions, the Guyana Labour Union and the Guyana Local Government Officers Union. The contracting out of any aspect of M&CC’s operations has to be discussed and agreed upon by the parties, guided by international conventions, local laws and Guyana Decent Work Agenda,” GTUC said in a statement.

To this end, the Body noted that the work of the cemetery cannot be re-assigned to prisoners because this act conflicts with ILO Convention to which Guyana is a signatory. 

“This revelation is also occurring at a time when there is high unemployment at the national level and the city council is being starved of funding to execute its duties. The non-payment by the State of its rates and taxes, and appropriate subventions hinders the city in discharging its responsibilities to the community,” the statement added.

GTUC says too that the government must no longer remain unmindful that Guyana continues to attract international condemnation for the violation of Convention 29 in activities such as Child Labour and human trafficking and cannot afford to have another protected category violated. 

The GTUC therefore urges the Minister of Local Government Norman Whittaker, Shadow Minister of Local Government Ronald Bulkan, Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee, Shadow Minister of Home Affairs Winston Felix, and most of all Shadow Minister of Labour Basil Williams and Minister of Labour Nanda Gopaul to ensure Guyana does not exploit prison labour, which would be detrimental to the nation’s reputation, international trade relations and prisoners’ rights.




  1. These people onec in prison they are living off the guyanese taxpayers dime. So, let do some work in return. In all my life in this country, prisoners have cleaning up the president burnahm’s residence and many other ministers place of abode. This guy seem to be all out in proctecting the criminal, yet in not procteting those criminals in the halls of power including our parliament.

  2. Let the dame prisoner clean up the city because the M&CC can’t seem to get it done ever, also they ask for too much to do nothing. The prisoner will do a better job and also at a cheaper cost. Just make sure that the prisoner choosing are not high risk escapes and they are properly monitor by guards. Also send them to clean clean up Diamond Scheme cemetery its in a mess for the longest time now, with bushes towering 8 feet off the ground. They NDC at Grove EBD not doing his job.

  3. De prisoners goin to jail cause they eating and sleeping rent to pay either…ok us del bugger Mattie let dem clean up De damn trench and gutter and when De go bak to the cell del gat food to eat..bed to sleep and they can still bugger Mattie. .

  4. IN the USA for sure in Texas it is the prisoners that picks up the trash along the freeways. Nothing wrong with Guyana taking approach. If it was done in the past I was too young to remember.

  5. i agree with putting them to work because people these days would hardly do those jobs unless you are a junkey but my advice if you are working put aside some money for them a pon their release they would have some thing to start out back with

  6. Once upon a time it was okay to use prisoners to clean up the city or any job that would of proved too costly. It was seen as a cheaper form of labor, but in today’s society, most transactions and people are corrupt which can prove dangerous to the public at large, so they should not be used for that purpose. This is Guyana………………………………where some persons are above the law.

  7. In the us prisoners makes license so they works for their upkeep the GTUC is a pack of jackasses to try to equates forced labor with a prisoner. I grew up with prisoners cleaning the city which was very clean then all alleys and parapet nice or have they forgot? This was in the colonial time and went over to next regime for some time what the GTUC needs to do get back to the job of being a labor movement and fight for better standard of living and pay for the people of Guyana thank you

  8. If the prisoners do not clean up the cemetery some body in this government should, if there relatives are buried there, have it clean. I can remember playing in there when I was a kid now I looks like I can hunt instead. The entire cemetery looks like a jungle. For the love of our dearly departed families that are interned there,somebody really need to take the responsibility and clean it up.

  9. Prisoners have been cleaning up Georgetown for decades, since I was a child, and I was born in the ’50’s. People were gainfully employed. If they want to say that the prisoners are taking away jobs, that’s a load of bull manure. Let the politicians e.g Roger Luncheon cut their salaries in half, that would be a good place to start. Bastards have ripped the country to shreds, and they are blaming it on the world economy crisis? Guyana’s economy started sliding downhill since the ’70’s. May God have Mercy!

  10. This matter can be resolved by first establishing a rule of which prisoners are allowed to work this can be minor and offenders and those on community service for a 40% pay which they can have on the end of their time. I hope that this crying foul by the unions are not political motivated. For as long as I can remember in the late 70’s to the late 80’s under the late LFS. Burnham I grew up with prisoners cleaning the streets and trenches. If you are going to object have a plan in place which will just get the city clean. It is a SHAME the state the city is in. Since the PPP are in power it is the worst the city has been they are never releasing monies to the City council all because it of the Hon. Mayor NOW THIS IS DIRTY POLITICS.


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