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27 Jul 2022

Migration Policy Institute

Guyana: Transition to an oil economy poses challenges to the protection of labour rights

Wikimedia Commons

"Discovery of Oil Could Bring Migrant Labor Opportunities and Climate Displacement Challenges for Guyana", 27 July 2022

...Guyana is increasingly becoming a migrant destination...The discovery of vast offshore crude oil deposits beginning in 2015 has made Guyana...on track to replace Kuwait as the world’s largest oil producer per capita.

...It remains to be seen, though, whether labor needs will prompt the development of more formal migration pathways and holistic immigrant integration programming, or whether it will contribute to the socioeconomic disparity dominant in oil-producing countries around the world...

...IOM estimates that Guyana will need to attract, at a minimum, 100,000 workers to realize its full growth potential...

...IOM and other international actors have recommended that Guyana establish an information center to conduct regular labor market and skills gap analyses, while taking stock of the skillsets of migrants already in the country and in CARICOM neighbors. In addition, there have been calls to modernize the immigration system by creating digital databases, establishing ethical recruitment procedures, and developing measures to regularize the status of migrant workers...

...[H]uman trafficking, sex trafficking, and labor exploitation could be exacerbated with the transition to an oil economy...Guyana is especially at risk given that these practices are already pervasive within its extractive industries...[T]rafficking victims are primarily migrants, young people from rural and indigenous communities, and persons with low education levels engaged in work in the mining, forestry, agriculture, and domestic service sectors. Migrant women and children...are also at heightened risk of sex trafficking in mining communities... Labor exploitation is also common among vulnerable migrants. With oil entering the picture, human-rights activists are sounding the alarm that problems apparent in the country’s mining communities may become even more widespread...