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Contractors Warned Not To Under-Pay Workers

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Tuesday, March 21, 2006 - The Labour Commissioner has warned contractors engaged on Government projects to ensure that labourers are paid no less than $50 per day as required by the law. And he has invited workers being paid less not to hesitate to contact the Labour Department for immediate redress.

Labour Commissioner Mac Stephen Aubertin says his department was activated by a report from the Prime Minister of allegations he received that Chinese contractors on three Government projects were paying labourers between $35 and $40 per day.

According to Mr. Aubertin, he was summoned by Prime Minister Dr Kenny D. Anthony, who requested that an immediate investigation be carried out by the Labour Department “to determine the veracity of the reports and to take whatever corrective measures were necessary.”

The Labour Commissioner said the contractors identified were engaged in public contracts to construct the Gros Islet and Marigot schools, as well as the new psychiatric hospital on the Millennium Highway.

According to Mr. Aubertin, he immediately assigned two Labour Officers to go directly to the sites to investigate the reports.

He said: “The investigating Labour Officers subsequently submitted a thorough report, in which they confirmed that the contractor engaged in the school projects paid labourers a minimum wage of $45 per day, while the contractor on the psychiatric hospital site paid a minimum of $40 per day.”

The Labour Commissioner said he officially informed the offending contractors “that their rates were in breach of the Labour Clauses (Public Contracts) Ordinance No 20 of 1959” and he also “instructed that the rates should be increased to a minimum of $50 per day.”

Mr. Aubertin says he further instructed his Labour Officers “to make regular visits to all three of the offending contract sites.”

However, the Labour Commissioner is also calling on citizens -- and workers in particular -- to inform his department of any employer who, by his acts and/or omissions, violates our labour laws.”

Mr. Aubertin concluded: “I also want to inform all contractors engaged in public contracts that no labourer should be paid less than $50 per day and that all other rates must not be less favourable than those established in the trade or industry in the district where the work is carried out.”

The Prime Minister says he is “pleased with the outcome of the investigation and the measures instituted by the Labour Department to ensure that our workers are not paid any less than the law requires.”

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