Ministry to crack down on those who swindle Amerindians
Guyana Chronicle
February 2, 2007

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MINISTER of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues has voiced her concerns over the non-payment to Amerindians who work for logging and mining enterprises and indicated her ministry will be taking a firm stand on the issue.

“We have not had many reports from the women but of our Amerindian men going out to work in mining, logging and other areas and not being paid,” she told the Government Information Agency (GINA).

Minister Rodrigues said, this year, the ministry will be cracking down on individuals and companies who try to swindle Amerindians.

The ministry will be working closely with the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) and Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) to curb the practice, she stated.

Rodrigues observed that GFC and GGMC are in charge of granting concessions for logging and mining.

She also issued a call for the reform of the Code of Practices as it relates to forestry and suggested there should be a section on workers’ treatment and, as State Forest Permits (SFP) are renewed annually, GFC should look at it, too, well before renewals are granted.

Rodrigues said, in some cases, her ministry was assisted by GFC and GGMC to ensure that the persons involved were paid and an arrangement with the respective commissions should be formalised shortly to deal with the problem.

She added: “We would definitely be a bit more aggressive and would be publicising those names, because we have noticed a few names coming up over and over and, in some cases, some very prominent people, from whom you would not expect this.”

When the staff of the ministry try to get them by telephone or to see them, it is always a problem, she lamented.

“It is not a nice situation when our men would come from far places, go to work and then, after six weeks, are told they can return home and their monies will be sent by post but they never would get it,” Rodrigues explained.

She noted that the fares Amerindians pay for travelling to Georgetown to fight their cases and receive payments is about half what they earn.