Govt to tweak tri­bunal

Daily Nation (Barbados) - - Front Page -

GOV­ERN­MENT IS com­mit­ted to re­solve the ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues that af­fect the smooth func­tion­ing of the Em­ploy­ment Rights Tri­bunal (ERT) and to elim­i­nate the back­log of cases which has been a source of frus­tra­tion for some mem­bers of the pub­lic.

Min­is­ter of Labour Se­na­tor Dr Es­ther Byer Suckoo gave this as­sur­ance while not­ing the tri­bunal had iden­ti­fied some weak­nesses. As a re­sult, meet­ings were held in­ter­nally and with the unions and em­ploy­ers to iden­tify some of the chal­lenges and their pos­si­ble so­lu­tions.

“I do ad­mit that there have been chal­lenges and there is a back­log. We have been work­ing with limited re­sources but I think that we have now been able to iden­tify how we can best use the re­sources that we have. When I meet with the chair­per­sons in the next two weeks, I be­lieve we will be able to put those new mech­a­nisms in place,” she said.

The Labour Min­is­ter also al­luded to a mi­nor amend­ment to the leg­is­la­tion as a means of re­duc­ing some of the bur­den on the ERT – a mea­sure which al­ready had the buy-in from the em­ploy­ers and the unions. She also dis­closed that con­sul­ta­tions were held on a num­ber of sug­gested amend­ments for bet­ter ad­min­is­tra­tion of the act.

Point­ing out that con­sul­ta­tions were held on the Em­ploy­ment Rights Act for close to two decades be­fore its pas­sage, she com­mended those in­volved in the dis­cus­sions that “came with an un­der­stand­ing about what we were try­ing to do and the spirit be­hind the act.

“Most of what is in the act was al­ready in prac­tice and some al­ready in our pro­to­col of the So­cial Part­ner­ship. The Em­ploy­ment Rights Act was in draft for close to two decades with in­tense con­sul­ta­tions. The par­ties un­der­stood and agreed to what the act was at­tempt­ing to do. How­ever, since the en­act­ment in 2012, em­ploy­ers, work­ers and at­tor­neys are in­ter­pret­ing this leg­is­la­tion in a way that we had not be­fore en­vis­aged.

“We have seen some very in­ter­est­ing in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the leg­is­la­tion and it has made for sce­nar­ios that none of the par­ties imag­ined in the 20 years that it was be­ing drafted. This is not unique to this act, how­ever, [but] now we are look­ing at spe­cific ar­eas in the leg­is­la­tion to see how we can ad­dress the sce­nar­ios that are now aris­ing out of the Em­ploy­ment Rights Act,” Se­na­tor Byer Suckoo said.

She said the act was not meant to place any un­due hard­ship on em­ploy­ers but was meant to pro­tect work­ers and to en­sure that there are fair struc­tures in place for em­ploy­ers to deal with chal­lenges they have with their work­ers. (JS/BGIS)

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