CLO wants workers treated fairly

Whether it is outsourced or contract work, it must be decent work and at no time should the workers be disadvantaged.

Chief Labour officer, Vincent Burnett, issued this warning this week while participating in a discussion on the topic: “The Outsourced and Contract Worker: The New Road to Privatisation in Barbados” at the headquarters of the National Union of public Workers at Dalkeith Road, St. Michael.

Burnett stressed that as Government’s chief advisor on industrial relations, his chief concern was to ensure that workers were engaged in decent work.

Addressing the issue of privatisation, Burnett said he did not think that it should be feared by the workers.

Burnett told his audience that in some countries top civil servants such as permanent secretaries were recruited on contracts.

He asked: “Is that the way we should go here? Should we have heads of departments on contract? Should we contract out our services like, laundry, security, the kitchen. Those are the kinds of things so that if we contract those services out are they going to be any better?

“Are people going to be happier? Is the entity being run any better? That is my concern. The entity should be run as good as possible.”

Burnett argued that if a ministry or department looked after its core services and outsourced other activities to competent contractors he had no quarrel with such action.†He suggested that with the influx of employers with different cultures some of the labour legislation may have to be updated or amended.

“Our industrial relations is based on voluntarism. For example, when it comes to recognition of a trade union we have a system in place which calls for a survey. Some investors from overseas would have questioned this arrangement. Putting something in place that will recognise trade unions will be one of the things we need.

“All and sundry who come into the country should know that this is the practice that you have to follow. It should not be a case of an investor being able to say, ‘I am willing to go along with you, but show me the law’,” Burnett explained. (NC)†

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