JIS News

Cabinet has given drafting instructions for amendments to the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act of 1975, in order to facilitate referrals to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT), disputes involving non-unionized workers, and to strengthen the capacity of the IDT to hear and determine such disputes.
Making the announcement at today’s post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, Minister of Information, Senator Burchell Whiteman, explained that the IDT, which was established to hear industrial disputes, had up to now, “functioned in relation to unionized workers and matters arising from disputes within that context”.
“There have been other areas of the practice of the Ministry of Labour (and Social Security), which have allowed non-unionised workers to receive some kind of hearing and have their cases dealt with, but there has been no power afforded to the Minister under the law, to refer cases involving non-unionised workers to the IDT,” Senator Whiteman told journalists.
Noting that there had been “significant” discussions recently about contract workers and how they were protected, Senator Whiteman said Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in his Budget presentation earlier this year, had spoken about amending legislation and introducing new measures to prevent the abuse of workers by way of the contract method of employment.
“This particular amendment will be a part of the process of ensuring that proper provisions are made for all workers in Jamaica. The Ministry of Labour has indicated that the capacity of the IDT as currently constituted will have to be increased to enable the embrace of all kinds of disputes that would now fall within its purview,” Senator Whiteman said.
Based on the proposal to grant an increasing number of persons the right of access to the IDT to settle disputes, it has also been found necessary to amend the Act to seek to increase the number of deputy chairmen and members of the IDT.
“The matter has been discussed and researched with the Labour Advisory Committee and there is general agreement in principle that this move is a good one,” the Information Minister assured.