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UPDATED: Former PM Patterson to deliver trade union institute's inaugural distinguished lecture

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson

Former Prime Minister P J Patterson is to deliver the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute’s inaugural distinguished lecture, which will focus on the ‘History and Development of the Modern Trade Union Movement: Lessons from the Past, Prospects for the Future’.

The distinguished lecture series is being launched by the institute to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the labour uprising in 1938, which ushered in the birth of the modern trade union movement.

Head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Education Institute, Danny Roberts, said Patterson’s lecture will set about to identify some of the key lessons in the early years of the formation of the trade union movement.

Roberts said the lecture will also critically assess how they have informed post-Independence development, particularly during Patterson's years in government.

He said the former prime minister will offer some insights into the changes necessary for the current legislative framework to create a fair and balanced employment relationship that can facilitate efficiency, equity and productivity improvements.

Patterson, who served as a minister of Government under Michael Manley in the 1970s, and as prime minister from 1992 to 2006, is credited with passing of a number of labour legislations during the PNP’s reign between 1972 and 1980.

It is said that the reform of Jamaica’s labour market began under his stewardship as prime minister in the 1990s and early 2000s, as demonstrated by the establishment of the Jamaica Productivity Centre and the introduction of flexible work arrangements, along with a comprehensive occupational safety and health legislation.

These were seen as key considerations to bring about a flexible and more dynamic labour market in response to the changing nature of the global marketplace, and to improve Jamaica’s competitiveness.

Eighty years ago in May 1938, and exactly 100 years after the abolition of slavery, the country erupted in a series of strikes and demonstrations by workers and peasants protesting the social, economic and political conditions existing under British Colonial rule.

The uprising gave birth to the modern trade union movement and accelerated the pace of the decolonization process, which finally led to the granting of political Independence in 1962.

NOTE: An earlier version of this story had said Patterson served as Prime Minister until 2016. That was incorrect. It should have been 2006.