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Minister of Labour and Social Security, Pearnel Charles, has said that the Labour Advisory Council must expand its role to reflect the new thrust of the Ministry to improve people’s lives, increase productivity and promote improved labour relations.
Mr. Charles was speaking at a meeting with members of the Council held yesterday (Oct. 24) at the Ministry’s North Street offices.
According to the Minister, the Council must elevate its role from industrial relations advisor to that of consultant to the government on more high level interventions such as labour legislation.
“We want to lift it to a higher level. We want this Council, through the Ministry of Labour, to advise the government concerning labour relations at all levels, legislation, and other forms of consultation,” he said.”I want to preside over a Council where the unions and management consider the task of building Jamaica as our business. Only a united front can move us forward. I am depending on this organization to let us join hands in making our mission successful,” Mr. Charles added.
He repeated his call for emphasis to be placed on the training of the country’s labour force, noting that one issue that will be placed on the Council’s agenda is the mandatory certification of all construction workers.
The meeting, which included representatives of trade unions and the Jamaica Employers Federation (JEF), discussed a number of issues including representational rights procedures; education, training and retraining of the Jamaican workforce; the inclusion of the HEART Trust/NTA under the portfolio of the Ministry of Labour and Social Security; the impact of the Caribbean Single Market Economy on the Jamaican workforce; and the role of the Minimum Wage Advisory Commission.
Executive Director of the JEF, Jacqueline Lloyd, and National Workers Union President, Vincent Morrison also tabled several pressing issues.
Labour legislation amendments and the work of the Jamaica Productivity Centre topped the JEF’s list of concerns, while the pressing issues for Mr. Morrison included skills training of youth not matriculating for college; the flexi-work week; and industrial matters concerning security guards. He also called for the tabling of the Employer’s Termination and Redundancy Act and the National HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy, in addition to legislation on safety and health in the workplace.
The Ministry’s team at the meeting included Minister of State, Andrew Gallimore, and Permanent Secretary, Alvin McIntosh.