PHILIPSBURG–The Windward Islands Chamber of Labour Unions (WICLU) will be requesting an urgent meeting with Labour Minister Emil Lee to discuss, amongst other things, the many issues affecting workers since the passing of Hurricane Irma.
These include the alarming number of job losses, salary cuts and reduced work days that workers have been subjected to since the September hurricanes.
Requesting the meeting with Lee is one of the actions that the WICLU decided to take following the solidarity march held amongst a small group of workers from a cross section of the job market on Friday.
WICLU President Claire Elshot told The Daily Herald on Sunday that while the march did not attract the large number of workers that the union had expected, the group had been active and the message sent clear.
She said the unions have many concerns related to workers since the recent hurricanes. One of the top issues the unions want authorities to prioritise is stemming the abuse of or abolishing short-term labour contracts post haste given the labour situation following the hurricanes.
“In wake of the developments post-hurricane it [short-term labour contracts – Ed.] needs to be abolished. This has to be one of the priorities. It’s something that we as unions have been talking about and it has to be addressed,” Elshot made clear. She was critical of the country’s legislative body, Parliament, for not doing enough to pass laws and said Members of Parliament (MPs) are more engaged in calling Ministers to Parliament to ask questions.
It should be noted that the article addressing the abuse of short-term labour contracts has been omitted from the draft national ordinance to amend the civil code related to labour reform which Lee tabled in Parliament last week. Lee had said at the time that the article (614a) contained shortcomings. These included that multiple fixed-term contracts were still possible and it was still difficult to ensure that persons do not get numerous consecutive contracts.
The conditions in the proposal were also hard to interpret and enforce and certain useful fixed-term contracts were ruled out such as granting three year contracts for lawyers, for example. The Social Economic Council SER and the Council of Advice recommended that this article be omitted.
As a result, Article 614a was removed from the draft and the abuse of short-term labour contracts is now said to be addressed in another article (668a), which Lee had said seeks to regulate the “revolving door” problem where workers are sent home for three months and then rehired on a new temporary contract.
In the meantime, WICLU board will meet on Tuesday to iron out the details of their request to meet with the Minister and to determine the next step forward as they push ahead to address the concerns of workers in the current labour climate.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/71962-wiclu-to-request-urgent-meeting-with-minister-lee