No evidence of child labour in Guyana
- Ministry of Labour
Guyana Chronicle
August 17, 2002

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THE Ministry of Labour says it has found no evidence of child labour to support claims of this nature.

Acting Chief Labour Officer, Mr. Dhanraj Sookdeo told the Government Information Agency (GINA) that a study was done some time ago by former University of Guyana Lecturer and Sociologist, Dr. Ken Danns but the focus was too narrow.

The sample taken for the report, Sookdeo said, was concentrated in communities which were likely to have children working during the afternoons and weekends at what would be considered household chores.

Sookdeo said that for such a study, it should have had a wider scope and because of this it did not bring out an informative conclusion.

He added that the ministry has done inspections and has not seen any evidence of child labour as that report wants to suggest.

"Apart from that, the employable age is 15 years and I think that survey reflected child labour as between 15 and 18 years", Sookdeo said.

According Sookdeo, the Labour laws do not consider a 15-year-old as a child but as someone capable of working.

He said that some people view children doing household chores or working in the family's business as child labour.

He added that at the time of Danns' study, the author may have not been aware of the workable age in the legislation.

Sookdeo said he feels strongly that child labour would have to be a serious exploitation of a child under age 15 who has to work in excess of four hours.

"I can't see a parent exploiting a child if he (or she) is doing chores", he added.

In relation to the exploitation of Amerindians, he said the Ministry of Labour has had reports of this especially in the mining and forestry sectors.

He said that because these are informal areas, no proper records are kept.

"There are loose arrangements regarding contracts of employment", he noted.

He said the Labour Ministry had received reports that some Amerindian employees were not paid by someone operating a logging company, "but it is difficult to access these areas and the extent of exploitation is very difficult to determine."

"This is because the ministry has no means of transportation. But it is not that evident," Sookdeo pointed out.

Enquiries about complaints from far-flung areas are made through the post or if the employer has an office or happens to be in the city, investigations are done to resolve the matter, he explained.

He also noted that there are not many complaints of this nature in the restaurant or domestic sector "or even if it is evident, it is not reported".

Over the last year the Labour Ministry has had approximately 445 complaints of which about 30 were from interior locations. (Government Information Agency - GINA)