‘Workers cannot be dismissed at the whims and fancies of employers’

L-R: Employers Federation’s Joseph Alexander, Trade Union Federation’s Julian Monrose, Acting PM Philip J Pierre and Education Minister Robert Lewis.

It has been a long road and we know some would have liked the road to be longer,” Julian Monrose, President of the St Lucia Trade Union told the substantial gathering at the Cultural Development Foundation’s conference room this week.
The Labour Code has remained in pre- implementation stages for far too long, but on Tuesday, July 30, the day before Emancipation Day the ministry of education, human resource development and labour held a symbolic ceremony to commemorate the commencement of the Labour Act (2006).
In his brief remarks Monrose paid particular attention to hotel workers who he said seemed to almost still live in slavery. He felt the Code was necessary for their protection as in his words: “Hotel workers are suffering.”
“The kind of hours some of them have to work creates social problems for our society,” he noted. “How do we expect these parents to effectively parent their children and help resolve some of the social problems? Employers have to understand that they too are in trouble when these social problems begin to grip the society. They need to work with us and we’re willing.”
In closing Monrose said the Trade Union Federation was indeed happy the Code was being implemented. He pledged the Federation’s full support.
When it was his turn Joseph Alexander, executive director of the St Lucia Employers Federation said after extensive negotiations employers had finally decided to come on board, now it was “full steam ahead!”
“Workers cannot be dismissed at the whims and fancies of employers,” Alexander noted. “We also see a higher level of human resource development to be ushered in as employers would have to prove that every effort is made to develop employees before employees can be terminated.”
In his speech education and labour minister Robert Lewis played on the significant promises he said had been made and delivered by the St Lucia Labour Party. To employees he said: “While we mark the occasion with special significance, the greatest celebration, the loudest applause, the highest acclamation is your ability to work. Your attitude toward your work, your ethics on the job. Employers I exalt you to align your human resource policies in compliance of the Code. I recognize some change will be necessary on your part but remember, in this life the only constant is change.”
On the occasion acting prime minister and minister of infrastructure, port services and transport Philip J Pierre put forth: “This Act will ensure a consistent balance and fair workplace relationship system that is easily understood and easily applied. The government of St Lucia hopes no attempts are made to utilize this law to create confusion or destabilize the relatively calm labour relations climate within our country.”
Tuesday’s ceremony ended with a rendition of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ by Martin James and the presentation of the Labour Act to the Trade Union Federation, National Workers’ Union and the Saint Lucia Employers’ Federation.
The Labour Act comes into force on Wednesday, August 1, 2012.

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