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The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is to be repositioned in keeping with the development goals of the country and its technical capacity enhanced to enable it to facilitate the development of a strong labour market and at the same time improve its capacity in conciliatory matters relating to labour disputes as well.
This was agreed to at a meeting convened by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson with the Minster of Labour and Social Security Hon. Horace Dalley and representatives of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions led by President Senator Dwight Nelson at Jamaica House on Wednesday (Feb. 23).
Mr. Patterson said the Ministry must be repositioned and placed in a development mode, especially in light of the implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy and the need to improve the country’s competitiveness.
At the meeting President of the JCTU Senator Dwight Nelson stated that with the move towards the formation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), the creation of a strong industrial framework would have to be realized in order to boost Jamaica’s participation and profitability in the CSME. In this regard, he stated that a national approach to the issue of productivity was of vital importance, adding that the Ministry should be equipped to deal with the task at hand.
In calling for the repositioning of the Labour Ministry, Mr. Patterson stated his confidence in the ability of the Minister to ensure that the ministry plays a primary role in the process of national development. He said there was need for the creation of a productivity ethos among Jamaicans as this was critical to the country’s industrial competitiveness and increasing the income of workers in real terms.
Mr. Patterson reiterated the Government’s commitment to the labour movement and in advancing the quality of life of all workers. He restated the high value the Government places on the Memorandum of Understanding between the government and the trade unions, not only for its economic value, but also for its significance towards the creation of a social partnership. He pointed to the encouraging prospects for investment and expansion of the economy and noted that this success would best be achieved in a favourable social climate and an atmosphere of industrial harmony.
On the matters of the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS, the Trade Unions restated their objection to any adjustment that would discriminate against workers affected by HIV/AIDS. In his response, Mr. Patterson said that the government insists on a policy of non-discrimination but provisions would have to be made in the policy to ensure that no one became a victim of contamination as a result of occupational exposure.
The meeting agreed that Head of the Epidemiology Unit in the Ministry of Health, Dr. Peter Figueroa would undertake a full examination of the matter, after further consultations with Unions and Employers, following which a legal opinion would be obtained.
The JCTU President expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting and expressed his confidence in the Prime Minister’s commitment to workers and the development of the labour movement.