Labour and Social Security Minister, Pearnel Charles has called for the reconstitution of the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on the flexi-work week, to facilitate a resumption of discussions, with a view to finalizing the matter.
Making his contribution to the 2008/09 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on May 21, Mr. Charles noted that the Committee met on four occasions since its formation in 2001 when the matter was tabled as a Green Paper in Parliament.
“But the matter was never brought to finality, as certain issues remained outstanding. These include: determination of the length of the workday; how overtime should be determined and dealt with; safeguarding a worker’s right to worship and having a day of rest; provision of an effective machinery for monitoring and investigating complaints of breaches of working time rights, and amendments to be made to restrictive clauses in specific pieces of legislation,” the Minister outlined.
Mr. Charles pointed out that flexible working arrangements are considered vital in increasing productivity, efficiency, and competitiveness, particularly in the current global environment. “It is known that it will assist in economic growth, job creation, and increased investments,” he statedTo this end, he said it was “imperative that we resume those discussions and. I am proposing that the Joint Select Committee be reconstituted as soon as possible with a view to bringing this matter to finality.”
“I do not think that the differences that separate us on this matter are overwhelming and I believe (that) this vehicle of flexible working arrangements can assist us in our objective for economic growth and job creation,” he said.
On another matter, Mr. Charles advised that insurance coverage for the island’s 15,000 industrial security guards is to be increased effective January 1, 2009He said currently, security guards only receive $1.5 million for injury, and $3 million for accidental death. He said discussions between the Ministry and principals in the industrial security sector yielded revisions in the existing rates.
“We are pleased that the leaders in this industry, have accepted my presentation that a security guard (operates similar to) a police (officer), and they (industry leaders) have authorized me to announce that effective the 1st of January (2009), all security guards will be entitled to the same insurance (coverage) as (members of) the Jamaica Constabulary Force. So they will move from $1.5 million to $2 million (for injury), and from $3 million to $4 million for accidental death and dismemberment,” Mr. Charles informed.