In a statement today, the Party’s Shadow Minister of Labour and Social Security, Mr Horace Dalley, pointed out that the Labour Relations Code of 1976 and the LRIDA act of 1975, were watershed legislation by the PNP administration led by Michael Manley, which levelled the industrial playing field and gave workers unprecedented rights and dignity.
Dalley said the PNP Executive Committee at its sitting last night discussed the recent attacks on the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) and asserted that the rights of the Jamaican workers must be preserved at all cost.
He said the PNP Executive wishes to remind interest groups involved in the present debate that Clause 2 of the Labour Code sets out clearly the philosophy behind the existing arrangements, stating in full that “recognition that work is a social right and obligation, it is not a commodity; it is to be respected and dignity must be accorded to those who perform it, ensuring continuity of employment, security of earnings and job satisfaction”.
Mr Dalley reminded that the IDT was established under the LRIDA to provide for the appointment of arbitrators in both public and private sectors to rule in industrial disputes. Prior to its coming to being, he noted, arbitration was subject to ‘ad-hoc’ voluntary agreements.
He said that the legislation emanated from consultations between Trade Unions, Employers and the State, with the specific objective of ensuring that workers’ rights are not infringed in the workplace.
The Private Sector groups and members of the government, in relation to the Petrojam/Ramharrack have recently expressed concern that the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) is “employee centric” and had been ruling in favour of workers and against employers.
“Any attempt to reverse this would be a backward step and out of sync with the conventions of the International Labour Organisation. The progress made in Jamaica through many years of struggle by the Jamaican workers and their representatives must be protected”, he said.
He said the PNP joins the trade union movement in rejecting the manner in which powerful groups are seeking to influence amendments to the law and the code. He said industrial harmony could only be guaranteed by cooperation and consultation.
Mr Dalley said the last PNP Administration had commissioned extensive Labour Market Reform studies which have been ignored by the Holness Administration, instead of being implemented to modernise the industrial environment in Jamaica.
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