Minister of Labour Colin Jordan on Tuesday disclosed that some employers have made attempts to weaken the power of trade unions in the workplace.

But while there were instances, it was not a widespread problem, he added.

He made the comments while speaking on day two of the 2021/2022 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure.

Jordan said: “This ministry encourages solidarity and in all of our interventions with businesses we speak to that as a philosophical underpinning, a policy perspective of Government and of this ministry. That is to say that workers have to be allowed together to negotiate on their behalf led by their union or whoever else they want to represent them and that that is not to be stifled in any way.

“I have not done research but there are a number of things that have come to my attention that says to me that there is an attempt to reduce the impact of unions in workplaces. I am not saying that it is pervasive, but I am saying clearly that I have seen evidence of an attempt to reduce the effectiveness of workers’ organization in this country.”

The minister said he had also observed a tendency by some human resource managers not to support workers.

Despite this, Jordan said his ministry continued to have a strong relationship with trade unions.

He told the House: “Our support for labour is ongoing. In terms of special programmes we have ongoing dialogue with trade unions and with the umbrella body representing employers in this country. We also have a relationship with the Caribbean Congress of Labour. We have been over the years working with the trade union movement particularly in the matter of training.”

Permanent secretary in the labour ministry Dr Karen Best said there were also plans to strengthen the capacity of the Labour Department to position it to be more effective in handling labour issues.

She said the ministry had fruitful discussions with the ILO to provide a number of training opportunities and avenues to ensure the Labour Department would be strengthened in the areas of conciliation, mediation, occupational safety and health and labour legislation.

“At the end of that process we should have fully trained officers who could offer a lot more to the employers in collaboration with our stakeholders which are the unions to make sure that the workers are advised in matters that can redound to their benefit,” Dr Best said.

She said the department would also be hosting several webinars to educate employers.

The minister said the Labour Department would have to become more effective with limited resources, explaining that it was not about only hiring additional workers.

He said there were also plans to remove some responsibilities from staff at the Labour Department to allow officers to refocus and improve their efficiency.
(RB)

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