Categorized | National News

Amendments To Act Will Benefit Unions And Employees

Significant amendments to both the Employment and Industrial Relations Acts, according to Labour Minister Shane Gibson, will put unions and employees in a better position to be less advantaged in the workplace.

Mr. Gibson’s comments came during a reading of the bills yesterday in the House of Assembly.

He said the need to make changes came after he and social partners recognized that there were several significant weaknesses to the existing laws.

“We have seen over the years where employees were made redundant on a moment’s notice, we’ve seen over the years where employees were not paid their redundancy pay we’ve seen where many employees continue to be taken advantage of,” he said.

“Even though the Investment Tribunal is there to assist persons in settling their disputes in a way where they don’t have to use a lawyer which would in most cases cost them thousands of dollars, we’ve seen the process was very prolonged and sometimes in cases of disputes they are left not settled for an excess of three or four years.”

Minister Gibson said he accepts that not everything can be legislated, but the government hopes to assist in situations where employers are unwilling to sit down and settle disputes.

“We saw a number of incidents where the employers unilaterally decided just to stop deducting union dues so that’s one of the things we had to address – the duty upon the registration of the union and recognition of employees obligated to deducting those dues,” he said.

“We look forward to all of the workers benefiting in a significant way as a result of these amendments.”

Early last month, the private sector had demanded that the government amend the labour laws for failure of some unions to file annual returns.

The letter published in a local daily making the demands was penned by Chamber of Commerce Chair Edison Sumner.

Shortly thereafter, National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas (NCTUB) General Secretary Zane Lightbourne said while he understood Mr. Sumner’s gripe, it was disappointing of him to suggest stricter laws to help get rid of unions.

“What is very disturbing about Mr. Sumner’s suggestions is the fact that the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce is a member of the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC), and has agreed to the ILO’s principle of tripartism and a bipartite working relationship with labour in order to enhance business sustainability, investment and job creation,” he said.

“Additionally, the goal of The ILO’s principle of tripartism is based on dialogue and cooperation between governments, employers, and workers in the formulation of standards and policies dealing with labour matters.”

Mr. Lightbourne said following the article if there were to be any further relationship with the Chamber of Commerce there must be a commitment of mutual respect of boundaries.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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