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“The Ministry of Labour has nothing to do with health situation in Guyana,” said Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton, when questioned on Thursday by Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Jermaine Figueira about the number of persons that have tested positive for COVID-19 at the Aurora gold mine.
At the National Assembly on Thursday, during the segment for questions submitted for oral responses, Figueira issued a list of questions to Minister Hamilton about the workforce employed at the Aurora gold mine and managed by the Aurora Gold Mine Inc (AGM).
Hamilton responded to all questions save for one which queried about compliance with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and COVID-19. The Opposition MP had asked for the number of Guyanese workers there who contracted COVID-19 between 2020 and 2021 and whether they were affected by non-remittance to NIS contributions.
To his, Minister Hamilton stated: “Both questions in that are misdirected.” When Figueira restructured his question to focus only on COVID-19 cases, Minister Hamilton added: “I am saying that the question is totally misdirected. The Ministry of Labour has nothing to do with health situation in Guyana.”
Hamilton’s response sparked disagreement from several Opposition Members who raised contest verbally. Though Figueira then attempted to put the question to the Minister of Health, Speaker of the National Assembly, Manzoor Nadir, reminded the Opposition MP about the procedures preventing him from doing such.
Other questions posed by Figueira and responded to by the Minister provided insight that there were 860 Guyanese and 58 expatriates employed at the Aurora mine as of March 31, 2021.
Figueira also requested a list of sub-contractors employed by AGM and the number of Guyanese employed by them. Minister Hamilton listed about 13 sub-contractors which included Orbit Garant Drilling, Inc., Orica, Machinery Corporation of Guyana Ltd. (MACORP), Rubis, Cevons Waste Management, Davin’s Catering, Jaising and others. From these companies, he said that 32 expatriates were employed and 430 Guyanese.
Figueira also queried whether Guyanese workers directly employed with the companies are permanent or contracted for a specific period. Minister Hamilton noted that there were 404 permanent employees.