Guyana: Minister of Labour Hamilton addresses 110th International Labour Conference
Guyana: Minister of Labour Hamilton addresses 110th International Labour Conference

Guyana: Joseph Hamilton, Minister of Labour, has recently addressed the 110th Session of the International Labour Conference (110th ILC). He also shared an update on the Guyana National Statement on the Report of the Director-General.

He stated, “Guyana noted the transformative processes of change impacting the world of work, which were the backdrop and rationale for the ILO’s Centenary Initiative on the Future of Work. The coronavirus pandemic has negatively impacted every country, and Guyana is no exception. The coronavirus pandemic has inflicted grievous harm to the global economy. Workers have borne the brunt of the worldwide downturn resulting from the pandemic. Employment shrunk as hundreds of millions of workers were hurled onto the breadline.”

He added that the economy of the country has also been adversely affected, but we have taken steps towards recovery. We continue to take steps to protect workers by adopting measures to protect their jobs and defending workers’ rights.

As per the Minister, Guyana has noted the challenges of labour markets in Least-developed countries. In particular, the issue of women in the LDCs, as in many other developing countries, being vulnerable to unemployment and limited opportunity to participate in the labour force. Moreover, they are often susceptible to low-quality jobs like domestic workers.

“We continue to make strides to reduce the disparity between men and women in qualifying for jobs. However, we believe that women can do as much as men. Therefore, several women have been targeted to participate in these training programmes through our initiatives, such as the Board of Industrial Training (BIT) programmes. Recently, scores of individuals who have graduated from this programme include a fifty-five-year-old woman who is now a qualified heavy-duty equipment operator, having completed four months of intense training through the Board of Industrial Training (BIT),” he added.

Furthermore, he mentioned that the safety, health, and welfare of people at work are critical. Therefore, Guyana appreciates the work of the International Labour Organisation in implementing the 2030 Global Strategy on Occupational Safety and Health, which focuses on awareness-raising and advocacy, and promoting occupational safety and health instruments, among other areas. The government of Guyana continues to promote good workplace safety and health practices.

In doing so, employers in both the public and private sectors countrywide are reminded that Sections 46 and 47 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act place a general duty on all employers. Accordingly, employers must provide and maintain a safe, sound, healthy and secure working environment as far as is reasonably practicable.

He concluded, “Before I close, allow me to reiterate that Guyana is putting an economic value on unpaid domestic and care work and encouraging healthier partnerships with men and boys, especially in shared household work. In addition, essential workers offer childcare assistance to help women participate equally and competitively in the workforce.”