The National Mine Workers Union of Guyana, (NMWUG) is supporting the call for the establishment of an Industrial Court to address all matters related to labour.
President of the NMWUG, Sherwin Downer stressed in a statement that the mining industry has been drowning” with labour and other related issues. He believes that an Industrial Court will help to alleviate these problems.
Downer noted that the Trade Union movement in Guyana is 100 years old and Guyana is 50 years plus as an independent country, and the absent of an industrial court remains a mystery.
“During this 100 years of celebration of the Trade Union movement in Guyana….the National Mine Workers Union of Guyana is calling for the establishing of a Labour Court and the end of hypocrisy on the part of the government…and urges a more understanding and working relationship between unions and the government,” Downer added
The government has been exploring the idea of establishing an Industrial Relations Court or Industrial Relations Tribunal to improve Labour–Management Relations.
Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection with responsibility for Labour, Keith Scott during the 2019 budget debates in the National Assembly, revealed that the Ministry had already engaged the major stakeholders who comprise the National Tripartite Committee, to examine a proposed bill which should bring into existence either a court or a tribunal.
“The object of this would be to enhance labour management relations and ultimately the quality of life of all workers, who should be able to experience decent working conditions,” Minister Scott said.
He noted that the mandate of the ministry is about fairness, justice and equity, but these values cannot be fully manifested with the current laws. In this regard, his department has embarked on the update and amendment of certain key labour-related legislation to coordinate these with enlightened thinking and practices.
These laws include the Labour Act, Leave with Pay Act, Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA), Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act, Co-operative Societies Act, Friendly Societies Act, and The School Thrift Chapter 36:04. Minister Scott said the Labour Act, Chapter 98:01 is the most important piece of legislation which was first enacted in 1942.
“For example, the need for an employer to produce the requisite employment records at the ministry to facilitate a reasonable resolution of differences between himself and an aggrieved worker or ex-worker is not provided for on a compulsory basis, thereby making a thorough and complete investigation protracted and sometimes almost impossible.”
The amended Labour Act will provide for the compulsory submission of the necessary records to aid in the resolution of complaints about the benefits of the ordinary worker and towards the promotion of human development.
The need for amending labour laws within the general scheme is imperative at this time as Guyana expects an inflow of foreign business due in large measure to the emerging oil sector.
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