Byer-Suckoo: I’m not about to meddle with tribunal
Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo says even though the Employment Rights Tribunal falls under her ministry, it has been given a level of autonomy, which she is prepared
She was at the time being pressed by reporters to give a timetable for when the tribunal would actually get down to work on the National Conservation Commission (NCC) layoffs, as ordered by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart back in May.
“I do not know when the cases to be brought before the tribunal will be heard. We in the Ministry of Labour were trying to give a certain level of autonomy to the tribunal, in much the same way that we do not meddle in matters before the courts.
“When a matter is before the court you will not see a minister pronouncing about it, because we want them to have that jurisdiction. We in the Ministry of Labour are just helping them from an administrative point of view. However, I am not actively involved in the hearing of the cases,” Byer-Suckoo said.
However, in defence of the nine-member body, which is headed by attorney-at-law Traece Codrington, the Minister of Labour sought to remind reporters that as a brand new entity, established only last year, the tribunal would go through initial teething problems.
“It has to start from scratch. They would need to have everything in place in terms of even from a telephone number . . . , something as basic as that.
“We had to start at the very beginning to have everything that they needed. What I will say is that the members of the tribunal want to ensure that they have everything in place before they start,” she added.
Byer-Suckoo denied that nothing was being done to have the workers’ concerns addressed, pointing out that the tribunal had been in contact with the unions and parties involved
in the dispute.
“There is a process. They did articulate the process; they have met more than once with the parties; there has been an exchange of documents; there were discussions on what needed to happen and what gaps needed to be filled in terms of documentation. It is a process the tribunal has been working on with the parties before they ask the parties to sit and consider the matter,” Byer-Suckoo explained.
In referring the NCC dispute to the tribunal, the Prime Minister had said that the retrenchment issue would be the tribunal’s top priority since “a number of missteps were made in the process”.
However, since then the process has hit a snag.
When contacted today, Codrington referred Barbados TODAY to the Minister of Labour, saying Byer-Suckoo was the one to speak on the matter.