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posted 20 Sept 2010, 19:28 by Gerry Kangalee   [ updated 20 Sept 2010, 19:40 ]
Minister of Labour Errol McLeod has warned his erstwhile comrades in the labour movement that they have to join the queue as they seek to persuade the government to adopt their programme of labour legislation reform as proposed in the Workers’ Agenda. (SEE ATTACHMENT AT BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE).

McLeod made the observation at a meeting between the leaders of seventeen unions and himself held on Saturday 18th September 2010 at the Cipriani Labour College, Valsayn.

He 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.

As he did in his budget presentation he promised that the minimum wages order would be placed before Parliament soon and that a new Minimum Wages Board would be appointed soon. As he did in his June 19th Fyzabad speech the Minister promised to repeal the Master and Servant Act and the Maternity Protection Act to move time off for pregnant workers from thirteen to fourteen weeks. He stressed that there was no longer any Public Sector Negotiating Committee (PSNC) which was set up by the PNM government and became notorious for interfering in and obstructing the process of collective bargaining.

Minister McLeod said the process of getting consensus on the minimum wage from his political associates was like “pulling teeth”. He said that a draft bill to replace the Workmen’s Compensation Act which had already been drafted and subjected to public consultation during the Panday regime was being dusted off with the aim of making relevant amendments and once more bringing it for comment.

Some of the issues the labour movement want dealt with include:

· 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.
Gerry Kangalee,
20 Sept 2010, 19:38