JIS News

The Senate has approved changes to the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes (Amendment) Act, which will allow non-unionised workers access to arbitration at the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT).
Only one amendment was made to the Bill, which was passed in the House of Representatives in October, 2009. It was piloted through the Senate on Friday
(February 26) by Minister of National Security, Senator Dwight Nelson.
The new amendment specifies that only disputes of rights, involving the non-unionised workers, can be referred to the IDT for settlement.
Senator Nelson said that this was necessary to ensure that “the effectiveness of the Bill is not undermined and that the IDT is afforded the opportunity to effectively deal with the cases referred.”
Disputes of rights are those which refer to the application of existing labour laws and agreements, including maternity leave and severance, while disputes of interest are those that need to be bargained between the workers and their employers, including wage increases.
The House of Representatives had already amended section 11A of the LRIDA, by removing the criteria for the need for the dispute to be settled expeditiously, or fear that industrial action is likely to be taken or contemplated, for these matters to be referred to the IDT.
The amendments were further strengthened by widening the definition of “undertaking” (workplace) to including businesses employing a single worker.
Senator Nelson noted that the current situation was especially unfair, considering that non-unionised workers formed the majority of the workforce, with four non-unionised workers for every unionised worker in Jamaica.