Labour Minister enlightens toshaos on how to avoid exploitation of villagers

Indigenous village leaders have been urged to ensure that contracts are signed between employers and the persons they employ from their communities, to ensure they are not exploited as there are cases reported of them being taken advantage of.

Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton as he addressed the NTC Conference

The issue was highlighted by Minister of Labour, Joseph Hamilton at the just concluded National Toshaos Council (NTC) Conference. The five-day event, which was hosted after a two-year hiatus owing to the pandemic, was held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre.

Minister Hamilton told the leaders, “I know a burning issue in villages… there are contractors, loggers and miners going to villages and taking people out to work, and in a lot of instances they are not paid.”

In light of this, Minister Hamilton informed that lawyers can visit the communities to teach the village councillors how to draft simple contracts to guard against exploitation.

He also noted that there are labour officers in the different regions who can assist persons with the various labour-related matters.  

“We can only act if there is a contractual agreement between the aggrieved employee and the employers,” the minister told the Toshaos.

A group of Indigenous people

The labour minister pointed out that some persons have worked for many years without knowing the names of their employers.

“I believe you have a responsibility to your villages and therefore, when people come into the village to hire people to take them wherever, you should ensure that a contract is established,” he reiterated.

Since taking office in August 2020, the PPP/C administration through the labour ministry has taken steps to ensure the workers’ rights are protected. Several labour offices have been established, as well as labour and occupational safety and health officers appointed in the regions.

Additionally, outreaches are being held across the country, affording employees the opportunity to raise their concerns, some of which are addressed on the spot by the minister, and his technical team.

Minister Hamilton also called on the leaders to ensure that villagers take advantage of the many technical and vocational training programmes available through the Board of Industrial Training, as well as other services provided by the labour ministry.

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