JIS News

Five government agencies now have final drafts of workplace policies under the thrust to eradicate stigma and discrimination against individuals in the workforce who are infected with HIV/AIDS.
These are the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (the Ministry overseeing the National Workplace Policy), and the Ministries of National Security; Local Government, Community Development and Sports; Industry and Tourism; and Education, Youth and Culture.
Policy/Advocacy Technical Officer with the National HIV/STI Control Programme, Faith Hamer made the disclosure at the official launch of the 2005 Workplace Mass Media Campaign on August 18, at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
She said the remaining Ministries have been taken on in two five-month periods through consultants who are engaged to sensitize and introduce the draft national workplace policy.
Meanwhile, Miss Hamer said the Education Ministry had an approved management policy for schools, which was now being implemented through a long term programme.
Where private sector companies were concerned, she said the International Labour Organisation in Jamaica was working with some 20 companies, while the National HIV/STI programme was working with another set of 20 companies. Miss Hamer noted that the companies selected so far were food-based entities and restaurants, and informed that there was a long term programme to increase the number by 10 to 20 companies through the global fund.
Furthermore, the Policy/Advocacy Technical Officer said there was a long term programme to ensure that there was a workplace policy in every organization in Jamaica.
While noting that it was “early days yet” for the national policy, which was still in its “preliminary stages”, she said work was also being done towards supporting legislation for the policy.
“Unless we have supportive legislation, some persons can escape some of the (principles) of the policy. The nature of policy is that without legislation they don’t have the required force,” she pointed out. She informed that a law firm had been hired to review existing laws and to ensure the necessary revision before presentation to Cabinet.
The campaign, which is themed: ‘Defend the rights of others and protect your own’, is targeting persons in the workforce population, aged 15 to 49, and was developed based on the guidelines of the National HIV/AIDS Policy and the Draft National HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy.
This campaign features three core messages, aimed at increasing awareness about the rights of employees to be recruited, and continued employment regardless of their perceived or real HIV status, its call of action being: “Support workers living with HIV. Start or join a workplace programme now”.