Cheddi Jagan airport expansion work put on hold over labor issues

The Guyana government is bringing the hammer down on the Chinese construction firm – China Harbor Engineering – which has been contracted to do the expansion of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA).
Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, Simona Broomes visited the company on Tuesday following instructions for the company to cease operations amid reports of unsafe working conditions and practices.
The government intervention came after a Chinese national, working on the project, died after he made his way into a swampy area while doing excavation works and was completely covered by mud.
According to Broomes, an investigation has found that the man’s death was occasioned by complete negligence on the part of construction Company.
There was no contract for young employee who recently arrived in Guyana along with several other workers, she informed News Source on Wednesday.
His body has since been cremated and his ashes sent back to his family in China. But the government remains concerned with reports of non compliance with the country’s labour laws by foreign companies.
In this regard, the construction firm was sent a letter to cease work, as provided for in the Occupational and Safety Health Act and was asked to make moves to comply with the country’s labour laws before work recommence.
“The visit yesterday was to check to see if it was safe so that work can recommence,” Broomes explained.
“I did mention to them that the Chinese laws are for China and Guyana laws are for Guyana, so there must be compliance,” she added The Minister said workers engaging in long hours of work will have to get their overtime.
By the end of the week the company should be handing over all the information government has requested including a list of all the workers, both foreign and local along with their salary scale.
Broomes said the APNU+AFC administration is very concerned that company was able to operate without giving workers contract under the PPP government.
“It’s a disgrace on the past administration; they did not care at all about workers and the Guyanese people and their rights and even the foreign nationals that were coming here.” The Minister said.
Managers claimed they have never interfaced with the labour department or seen a copy of the country’s Occupational Safety and Health Act.
This story was first published on News Source Guyana.