Where we stand‎ > ‎News & Comment‎ > ‎


posted 5 Oct 2010, 10:23 by Gerry Kangalee

A joint Conference of Shop Stewards and Branch Officers (COSSABO) will be held at OWTU Headquarters on Saturday 9th October beginning at 1:00 pm.This was decided at an all union meeting of union leaders  held on Monday 4th October 2010 at Cipriani Labour College, Valsayn. 

This follows two meetings with the Minister of Labour to discuss the Workers' Agenda which involves the overhaul of labour legislation and, in particular, legislation as it pertains to speedier recognition of unions as recognised majority unions. 

The COSSABO provides the second rank leadership of the trade union movement with a forum to assess the situation facing the working class and to propose measures to advance the Workers' Agenda.

Most of the unions in the country, whether FITUN, NATUC or Independent, are expected to attend the COSSABO.

Some of the areas discussed with the Minister of Labour were radical reform of the process of recognition to allow for speedy recognition of trade unions and elimination of the increasingly bureaucratic operation of the Recognition Board including removal of the Essential Industry Schedule which prevents workers from joining a union of their choice;

· Removal of limitations on the right to strike;

· Excision from the law of provision which allow an employer to seek decertification of trade unions; 

· Removal of legal provisions which delay, hinder and prevent trade unions from representing individual workers, who come from a non-unionised environment; 

· Removal of restrictions on the right to strike by specified groups of workers; 

· Recognition of all workers, including domestic workers, as workers under the law

· Broadening the concept of redundancy to cover workers faced with Company closure, such as winding up, receivership and liquidation and the prioritizing of severance payments in terms of ranking of creditors 

· Amendment of the Supplemental Police Act to provide for (non-precepted) security officers to be represented by the Estate Police Association.

· Security of tenure and pensions for Judges of the Industrial Court and their appointment by an independent body and not the Cabinet.

Minister McLeod claimed that the government has a three year project of planned legislative changes and that labour has to fall in line in its quest to shift legislation to a more facilitative environment. He assured the labour leaders that the Industrial Relations Act (IRA) will be amended, but other stakeholders (the employer) need to be consulted.

The unions now need to develop a campaign to force the government to make labour's concerns a priority. To do that we cannot depend on McLeod being in cabinet. We must show the government that like other sectors in the society we are prepared to mobilise our forces to advance our interests. 

The COSSABO is a first step in that direction and must discuss a campaign of mobilisation throughout the country that will ensure that the working class does not get the crumbs from the PP's table, but the freshly baked bread.