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Minister of Labour and Social Security Hon. Pearnel Charles, has said that his Ministry is moving to the stage where strikes will not be necessary in Jamaica to resolve industrial disputes.
“One of the aims of my Ministry is to remove the need to strike. We want to strengthen the process to support production , and we will be examining the labour laws to see if there is need to amend them to facilitate this,” he said.
Mr. Charles was speaking at the Jamaica Information Service (JIS)-sponsored ‘Special JIS Media Forum’ on Budget issues, held today (Thursday May 07) at the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ), South Odeon Avenue, Kingston, at which he and Minister of Tourism Hon. Edmund Bartlett, were special guests.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Hon. Pearnel Charles, makes a serious point to moderator Ian Boyne, during the May 7 ‘Special Media Forum’ hosted by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) at the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica (PBCJ) studios, South Odeon Avenue, Kingston.

They were questioned by Jamaica Observer’s Erica Virtue and CVM Television’s Garfield Burford. JIS Chief State Liaison, Ian Boyne, was moderator. The footage was scheduled to be shown on the PBCJ cable television channel, Thursday night.
Mr. Charles told JIS, after the filming, that the Ministry is working on strengthening the industrial relations process to create four levels of interaction:(1) shop level discussions between management and trade union/workers;(2) conciliation at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security;(3) reference to the Minister; and finally, (4) arbitration involving the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT), a special tripartite tribunal or the Supreme Court, where all parties will accept the ruling as final.
“This is one of the aims of the Ministry, to develop a process which will remove the need to strike and support production,” Mr. Charles told JIS.

Minister of Tourism Hon. Edmund Bartlett (left), makes a point during the May 7 ‘Special JIS Media Forum’ staged by the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) at the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica(PBCJ) studios, South Odeon Avenue, Kingston. Others from left are: Minister of Labour and Social Security Hon. Pearnel Chares; moderator Ian Boyne; and journalist Erica Virtue (Jamaica Observer).

He appealed to Jamaicans to recognise the country’s economic crisis as a challenge which it has to face, but that out of that challenge can come “great opportunities.”
Regarding the estimates, Mr. Charles said that the country should recognise that the Government had a serious problem in formulating a budget, in light of the economic challenges.
“We are in serious trouble, and it is not Golding’s problem nor Portia’s problem: it is all of us problem,” Mr. Charles said.
Mr. Bartlett said that there was a need for all Jamaicans to embrace responsibility for managing the problems, including crime, and that a significant amount of money has been allocated in the 2009/10 budget to support those efforts.
He said that the special consumption tax was “one of the finest” ways to ensure equity in taxation, and that every effort was made to protect the poor and workers, at the same time.
“Taxation is very complex, but the mix must enable a balance that will keep the society stable. At the same time, we are also creating incentives for higher levels of production,” he explained.
Mr. Charles said that the Government made every attempt to ensure that the budget was as equitable as possible, and had revised it in response to some of the concerns which were raised by the public about the implications of some provisions, after the budget debate opened.
He said that, in addition to economic incentives, the budget also created an expanded safety net covering the social security, education and health needs of the poorest at a cost of several billion dollars. He said that this was aimed at ensuring that no one falls below the poverty level, in the process.
“This is the biggest attempt ever to create a safety net for the poor, through education, health and social security,” he noted.
Mr. Charles is expected to open the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 19, during which Members of Parliament who did not participate in the recent Budget Debate will make presentations.