Advertisement
JIS News

Story Highlights

  • The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is receiving technical support from the International Labour Organization (ILO), as it works to finalise the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) legislation.
  • Portfolio Minister, Derrick Kellier, informed that the ILO Sub-Regional Office in Trinidad and Tobago is providing a consultant to assist the process.
  • Minister Kellier was addressing the OSH Tripartite Workshop yesterday (September 9), at the Ministry’s North Street offices in Kingston.

The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is receiving technical support from the International Labour Organization (ILO), as it works to finalise the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) legislation.

Portfolio Minister, Derrick Kellier, informed that the ILO Sub-Regional Office in Trinidad and Tobago is providing a consultant to assist the process.

“In just a few days (the consultant) will be on location here at the Ministry to work alongside our legal division as well as the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel in finalising the Bill,” he said.

Minister Kellier was addressing the OSH Tripartite Workshop yesterday (September 9), at the Ministry’s North Street offices in Kingston.

The tripartite partners, comprising the Government, employers and trade unions, met to review the draft of the OSH Act.

Once finalised, the Bill will be subject to approval from the Attorney General’s Chambers. It will then be submitted to the Legislation Committee of Cabinet for approval to be tabled in Parliament.

Minister Kellier highlighted some key policy decisions that are being considered ahead of the finalisation of the Bill to improve labour administration at the Ministry.

Among these are expanding the jurisdiction of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) and instituting standardised labour inspections.

“We are exploring options for expanding the jurisdiction of the IDT in relation to the adjudication of labour issues generally, including OSH matters and not just industrial disputes,” he said, adding that plans are far advanced for establishing a branch of the IDT in Montego Bay.

“We are also exploring a centralised approach to workplace inspection, by streamlining the various aspects of this function within the Ministry. So, instead of having different labour officers visiting a workplace to monitor and ensure compliance with the different aspects of labour administration, we will have standardised inspections, particularly with respect to shops and offices and other non-hazardous undertakings,” he noted further.

Minister Kellier, in his presentation at the workshop, reiterated the Government’s commitment to the safety of all workers.

“Let me reassure you that enactment of the OSH legislation has always been, and remains, a priority for this Ministry [and] we are committed to ensur[ing] decent work for all by keeping our workplaces safe and our workers healthy,” he said.

Meanwhile, Senior Director for OSH at the Ministry, Robert Chung, said Jamaica is long overdue for the implementation of the legislation as productivity is being hampered in some workplaces.

He said the National Workplace Condition Index indicates that only marginal improvements are being made. In 2005, the report showed that, on average, 57 per cent of workplaces achieved optimal working conditions with this figure slightly increasing to 58 per cent in 2007.

“What it is showing is that Jamaica has a lot of mediocre workplaces… and yet we are quipping about productivity. In that kind of condition productivity is certainly not going to improve. The problem is that we …are focused on profit and not focused on what is more important and that is the human being,” he argued.

Mr. Chung said that within five years of implementation of the OSH Act, an average of 80 per cent of workplaces should be up to standard.

Also addressing the meeting was Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Colette Roberts Risden, who said the passage of the OSH legislation will allow Jamaica to sign on to a number of international agreements, including the maritime, fishing and domestic workers conventions.