BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, JULY 18TH 2013 (CUOPM) – The St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly has given the greenlight to make the National Tripartite Committee a legal entity with legislative authority to undertake the critical work of legally scrubbing the Draft Labour Code.
Speaking in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Minister of Labour, the Hon. Patrice Nisbett said the governing St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Administration “can with Full Confidence, with ripe Confidence, proclaim to the world, that, the construct of the Protection of Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2013, a vital piece of legislation that was properly, carefully and responsibly undertaken.
He told lawmakers that in achieving the goals dignify the working people, to position the economic partners; local, regional and international to take advantage of the Government’s trust to transform the economy, there needs to be continuous upgrade and reform of the our legislative infrastructure.
Mr. Nisbett informed that the Federation National Tripartite Committee in 2009 signed off on the Federations’ Decent Work Country Programme which has as its priority areas the review and update of the Federation Labour Laws and developing of a Labour Code, the strengthening of the Labour Market Information System, the development and implementation of a National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS and other Chronic Diseases and the strengthening of national tripartite dialogue process, between the Government, workers’ and employers’ organisations.
“All of these have been activated and moving apace with the full support and confidence of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office of the Caribbean,” said the Labour Minister
“Mr. Speaker, I record my concerns regarding some alarmist views, which have been expressed regarding the proposed amendment to the Protection of Employment Act viz a viz the Draft Labour Code.Firstly, I want to amplify the fact that this Government, this Ministry of Labour intends no subterfuge on this matter. It is a matter of fact that the stakeholders of interest are now engaged in tripartite plus dialogue on the Draft Labour Code – A Code that is long overdue. A Code, which when enacted will catapult the Federation into compliance with the Labour conventions ratified and secure the industrial and Labour legislation infrastructure to the ideals, principles and legal tenants of the ILO in the interest of workers and our economic partners; local, regional and international,” said Minister Nisbett, who is also Mnister of Foreign Affairs, Homeland Security, Justice and Legal Affairs.
The platform he pointed out must be built by all the stakeholders in the world of work within the tripartite plus framework to enable the launch of the collective quest to realize the Decent Work Agenda and the Global Millennium Goals.
He said the Government being mindful, that labour legislation is vital to the economy and is necessary for the achievement of balanced development in terms of both economic efficiency and well-being of the population as a whole, and taking into account the complex web of interest and needs involved, is fully committed to the tripartite process.
Mr. Nisbett said he has been advised that the call for institutionalization of the Committee was long herald by the tripartite plus constituents.
“We (the Government) heard the cry and we are here today answering that cry in order to give birth to this provision in Law. Mr. Speaker, in its original form, it was contemplated to address some other critical issues impacting the Federation’s industrial and labour relations platform – termination of employment, unfair dismissal, constructive dismissal, wrongful dismissal, recovery of wages and others,” said Minister Nisbett, who disclosed that the Government realizing that these are issues that required, due diligence and forensic review and have accordingly held that the national tripartite committee must dialogue on these areas so that the accumulated wisdom of the stakeholder can be brought to bear on said areas.
“Mr. Speaker, even as I beat the drums on behalf of the Government, it would be remiss of me not to recognise and salute the contribution of our Social Partners, the Workers Organization (St. Kitts-Nevis Trades Trade Union) and the Employers Organization (Chamber of Industry and Commerce). Indeed, Mr. Speaker, the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union has for some eighty plus years been in the vanguard of Industrial and Labour Relations Legislative Development in the federation and I, on behalf of the Government and in my capacity as the Minister with responsibility for Labour, salute them for their sterling contribution to the Industrial Relations Jurisprudence of St. Kitts and Nevis and I entreat them to continue generating their ideas and views and to support initiatives to further enhance the federations Industrial Relations Sphere,” said Mr. Nisbett, who also recognised the contribution of the Private Sector to the development of the Labour Laws in the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Mr. Speaker, we are all in this boat together, the Government, the Workers Organizations and Employer’s Organization. Together, we must ensure that our Industrial and Labour Relations Sphere is harmonious and progressive that we position ourselves as a destination of choice for Foreign Direct Investment, Regional Investment and Local Investment.
Stating that there can be “no development without Labour and no Labour without development,” Minister Nisbett petitioned for stoking the engine of a services and productivity revolution in St Kitts and Nevis, whilst subscribing fully and with confidence to the ideals of social and economic justice for all stakeholders in the world of work.
“I petition that we ensure that the National Conversation on the challenges that confront us continues unabated with a view towards converging on solutions and consensus that redounds to the wholesome development of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis,” he concluded.