JIS News

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has agreed with a suggestion made by trade union leaders that there was scope for a reform of the country’s social security system to make it more modern and responsive to the welfare of persons from various sectors of the society. Mrs. Simpson Miller was speaking on Friday (Apr. 28) during a meeting with representatives of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions at Jamaica House.
Mrs. Simpson Miller said that as social security affects everyone from the ‘womb to the tomb’, the focus should not only be on the National Insurance Scheme which she said had done a remarkable job since its existence, but that other areas should also be addressed. In this regard, she said priority areas would have to be determined and budgetary allocations made for dealing with those matters.
She concurred with the union leaders that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security should be at the heart of national development and that it should take the lead responsibility for determining the human resource requirements of the country and make recommendations for training to meet the demands for Jamaica. She said consideration could also be given to training for export, as workers would be able to take advantage of the opportunities that are available in the CARICOM Single Market.
In the meantime, the Prime Minister has asked newly appointed Minister of Labour Hon. Derrick Kellier to meet with trade union leaders so that issues of general concern to the labour movement can be discussed. She has also indicated her interest in having periodic meetings with trade union leaders and said that continuous dialogue and cooperation were important elements in the establishment of a framework of partnership within which to achieve the desired objectives of the labour movement.
She commended the trade union leaders for their hard work, support and advice on critical issues relating to industrial relations and labour market reform and had high praises for the work that has been accomplished by the Labour Advisory Committee.
The issues raised by the trade union leaders related to pension reform, public sector modernization, education and training and tax administration. General Secretary of the JCTU Mr. Lloyd Goodleigh said the confederation remained committed to the concept of social dialogue with the government and welcomed the periodic meetings which it has been agreed would be held on a quarterly basis.
Among the persons present at the meeting were the Hon. Derrick Kellier, Minister of Labour and Social Security, Mr. Alvin McIntosh, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and Social Security and Mrs. Patricia Sinclair Mccalla, Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister. Mr. Hopeton Caven, Mrs. Helene Davis-Whyte and Mr. Wentworth Gabbidon, Vice Presidents of the JCTU, were also in attendance.