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Minister of Labour and Social Security, Hon. Derrick Kellier, has said that despite the outcome of a recent court case surrounding attempts to unionize security guards, there was no declaration against the legal classification of security guards as workers.
He made the point in the House of Representatives yesterday (Jan. 23), while moving a resolution for increases in the National Minimum Wage and the minimum wage for industrial security guards.
“We have modified the definition of ‘worker’ under the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act. By law, security guards are workers even where they are classified by their employers as individual contractors.the Minister of Finance and I will be having some discussions on this matter,” Mr. Kellier told the House.
He said he would also be meeting with the trade unions to “look at new ways of approaching the matter so that the rights of this group of workers are protected. To give further protection to workers, laws are also being enacted to enable non-unionized workers to have access to the Industrial Disputes Tribunal”.
The Appeal Court, last year, quashed an award made by the Resident Magistrate’s Court in favour of the Minister, who had sought criminal sanctions against Marksman Limited for alleged breaches of the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act.
Union representatives had decried the court’s ruling as a setback in efforts to unionize the security guards.
Meanwhile, the Labour Minister noted that the minimum wage was only one of a package of policies, programmes and initiatives to protect workers, foster a high level of morale, develop responsive and dynamic labour market, promote labour productivity and create a vibrant economy. He further stated that the government was committed to the periodic and planned increases in the minimum wage.
“Any objective analysis will show that over the past 10 years, increases in the minimum wage have been significantly higher than increases in the cost of living, and this year will be no exception. The minimum wage must continue to be structured as a counter to the negative effects of inflation on the poor,” he stated.