President of the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF) Wayne Chen, has praised the government and labour union leaders for helping to achieve an enviable record of industrial peace in Jamaica.
Speaking with JIS News, Mr. Chen noted that the JEF and its tripartite partners in industrial relations must be commended for the hard work they do behind the scenes to achieve this, despite tough economic challenges.
“We just have to look internationally and see the turmoil in many other countries, where this arrangement does not exist and look at the relative calm here in Jamaica,” the JEF President stated. He noted that the calm industrial climate exists because of efforts by many in helping Jamaica produce a globally competitive workplace that will support the goal of reaching developed country status by the year 2030.
He said that the JEF continues to work tirelessly to improve and expand the number of opportunities for Jamaican workers as “employers will only prosper when employees prosper”.
“We are all looking for ways to motivate our employees to expand our enterprises whether in the public or private sector to make our enterprises more efficient and overall, to achieve the goal of seeing Jamaica having a globally competitive workforce in the context of us developing into a first world country,” he said.
An important measure, Mr. Chen said, is bringing enlightenment to the Jamaican workplace, not only on matters relating to employers’ rights but also employee welfare.
“We continue to lobby for a strengthening of the social safety net to protect the most vulnerable in society whether it is the unemployed, the children, whether it is the disabled, the old and retired, we look for the barriers to informality, we look for the incentives for formality and we ensure that these are incorporated into the overall legal and regulatory structure,” Mr. Chen stated.
The President added that the JEF attends and participates in regular meetings with the heads of the union movement and the government to discuss matters relating to policies and employer/employee-related legislation and regulations.
“We work very closely with the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and, in recent years, all of the proposed legislation have been sent to us or we have been invited to participate in crafting (them),” he informs.
The most recent, he said, is the Whistle Blower Act, which protects employees, who may have information of malfeasance within their organisations.
Mr. Clarke noted that representatives of the JEF have gone to Parliament and other fora to address concerns and make recommendations, to ensure that the laws are entirely appropriate for the Jamaican workplace.
“We have worked closely with the Government and the leadership of the labour movement on the issue of flexi-hours, occupational safety and health, and on several other pieces of important labour legislations that have been passed, or are in the process of being passed,” Mr. Chen told JIS News.
The President pointed out that another avenue of strengthening employee/employer relations and workplace policies is the annual business and workplace convention and expo, which allows for chief executive officers, general managers, human resource managers and other operators of organisations to interact, network, share ideas, discuss and plan strategies and best practices for their firms and companies.
The convention is slated for May 3 to 6 at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios, St. Ann.
Mr. Chen said that hosting the annual convention is a means of “bringing Jamaican entrepreneurs, academics and public servants into one place where we can share our experiences and best practices."
By Kadian Brown, JIS PRO