JIS News

Prime Minister Bruce Golding has called on the Jamaica Employers’ Federation (JEF) to provide the leadership that will be pivotal to recognising the changes that have taken place within the workplace and to lead the process of adjustment to deal with it. He said Jamaica faces some new realities that are in some respects bewildering but which also provide horizons of opportunities that must be grasped, understood and confronted.
Addressing the JEF’s 50th anniversary launch at the Federation’s expanded and refurbished Ruthven Road facilities in Kingston this evening, (Wednesday Feb 13) Mr. Golding said one of the issues which needed to be addressed by the JEF was that of labour market reform.
“We have been unwilling to confront the fact that, the workplace management relationship that we have been accustomed to for many years is not going to cut it in the world we now find ourselves,” he said.
He noted that the committee which was set up over 10 years ago to examine current labour practices and to make recommendations as to how to reform the system to improve efficiency, job security, productivity and competitiveness never got off the ground.
He said it was important to ensure that there was an understanding of the workplace relationship, so that people don’t have to be resorting to grievance procedures and industrial action.
Mr. Golding said his government wanted to get the parties back to the table to start talking again. To this end, Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Finance, Senator Dwight Nelson, is leading the discussions between the government and the trade unions insofar as it affects the public sector. He said the government is determined to go beyond that and has already initiated discussions with the private sector and the trade unions towards a social partnership – ‘a partnership for progress..towards an understanding that pulls together, the critical stakeholders in the process of production ‘. The Prime Minister said the partnership would have to be one in which there is recognition of the place of the worker in the scheme of things. He said there is going to have to be an acknowledgement that there is no more ‘free lunch’ and that some of the cushions of preference and concessionary arrangements that allowed inefficient producers to be profitable in the past will not be possible in the future.
Mr. Golding said that his colleagues in CARICOM had established a committee to review the recently-signed Economic Partnership Agreement. He expressed the hope that when the group meets in the Bahamas in March for the intercessional meeting of CARICOM Ministers, the body will focus more on the opportunities offered under the EPA through the duty free quota benefits.
‘We have not just a challenge, but an imperative before us that we have to get this country organised. We have to dispose of old paradigms, old practices, old ideologies that used to define our relationship as a people and used to differentiate us within our economic and social environment. We are going to have to realise that we are not going to make it unless we build a partnership’, he concluded.
In his brief remarks at the launch, the Head of Delegation of the European Commission to Jamaica, Ambassador Marco Mazzocchi Alemani, expressed the EU’s commitment to working with the government and private sector by providing budget support and assistance with priority programmes identified by the government. The EU has played a pivotal role in the JEF’s project, contributing over J$1.7-billion to the expansion and refurbishing programme.
Through its expanded facilities, the JEF services will include new and sophisticated offerings in its enterprise and business development services, business information centre, industrial relations and policy development, training and learning services.

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