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Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Senator Dwight Nelson, has informed that Cabinet has agreed on the amendment of the Constitution, of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for the termination of a number of conventions.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet press briefing today (Oct. 8), at the Office of the Prime Minister, he explained that the ILO, which is a tripartite organisation of the United Nations, meets every year and looks at conditions of employment, societal conditions “which impact on workers throughout the world in some 150 countries and Governments. The employer and the workers representative would sit and determine what countries need to do to ensure that the three parties are able to exist in a society in harmony and in recognition of the rights of each other.”
He noted that, some of these conditions have become outdated, and are no longer useful, and so the ILO would agree to abolish these conventions, noting that at the last meeting of the ILO, a decision was made to “abrogate seven of these conventions, and it is for us, the countries who ratify these conventions, to accept the abrogation of these conventions.
Invariably, countries would enact legislation to give effect to some of these conventions. When these conventions are abrogated, we need not repeal the legislation,” Senator Nelson explained.
Citing an example of such convention, which needs to be repealed, he said, “we have a law promulgated in 1956 which says that women should not work at night. Legally, night is defined as commencing at 6:00 p.m. So basically what the law that we have on our statute book says, is that, women should not work after 6:00 p.m.”
He noted that there are some exceptions such as with the security forces, nurses, and if the women are working with items which are perishable, which would require them to continue working. Senator Nelson pointed out further that the convention to which this law gave legal effect is being abrogated and therefore, there is a question as to whether this law should also be repealed.
“I really think this law should be repealed because I think that in an era when the extension of production so as to increase productivity is needed, then we can’t have our machinery lying for eight hours a day, we have to utilise the full capacity of our productive machinery, which we have not been doing in Jamaica. I think this law about women not working after 6:00 p.m. is antiquated and should be repealed,” he emphasised.
On another matter, Senator Nelson informed that Cabinet had accepted the report of the Sixth Independent Commission of the Judiciary. “In accordance with the provision of the Judiciary Act, a Commission is appointed to inquire into the emoluments and allowances and other areas of compensation to senior Judges, and by senior Judges, we mean the Chief Justice, the President of the Court of Appeal, the senior Puisne Judge, and the Puisne Judge,” he noted.
He said that this three-person Commission inquired into the conditions of compensation of the Senior Judges and had made recommendations. “The areas they would have looked at would be basic salaries, motor vehicle allowances, housing, mortgage assistance, pensions, entertainment, library, robing, security, and other areas.”
This report of the Commission, he further noted, will now be laid in Parliament and will serve as the basis for determination of increases and improvements to the salaries and other conditions of employment of senior judges.