Fri | Oct 19, 2018

Just a little longer for workplace safety law - Robinson

Published:Wednesday | May 16, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/ Gleaner Writer
Danny Roberts (left), head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Institute; and Shahine Robinson (second left), minister of labour and social security; along with Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sports, review a placard bearing the image of National Hero Marcus Garvey in the possession of Allan Martin (right), member of the Universal Negro Improvement Association, which Garvey founded. The occasion was a commemoration and remembrance ceremony at the Workers’ Monument in downtown Kingston, honouring workers and commemorating those who died in the 1938 riots.

Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson yesterday gave the assurance that Government was on track to getting the Occupational Safety and Health Bill passed into law as soon as possible, admitting that its passage was long overdue.

The bill, which was finally laid in Parliament late last year, has been subject to intense debate, with the Opposition and Government yet to arrive at a common position.

"We intend, right after the Sectoral Debate, to continue the debates with contributions from the opposition spokesperson on labour and social security and other members who have indicated that they wish to speak on it. Thereafter, I believe we will send it to a joint select committee with the stipulation that it can only be for a month, because it has been out there for a long, time, Robinson told The Gleaner following the commemoration and remembrance ceremony at the site of the Workers' Monument in downtown Kingston yesterday.

 

TIME WASTING

 

However, president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions Helene Davis Whyte viewed this legislative time table as further time wasting on a matter which deserved urgent attention.

"We are, as a trade union movement, disappointed. There doesn't seem to have been much progress, and certainly, we don't think it really needs another joint select committee," she told The Gleaner.

"What is needed is for it to get to the Senate and be passed into law, because the development of the act itself saw a lot of consultations with all the social partners. So we are beyond that, and what needs to happen now is a timeline for the law to be passed."

Both women were among officials who spoke at the ceremony, which is in keeping with the observance of Workers' Week from May 14-23, under the theme 'Preserving Our Legacy, Unfolding Progress'. This year also marks the 80th anniversary of the pivotal labour and civil unrest that started on the docks.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com