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Labour minister blasted for handling of Employment Rights Tribunal

Barbados Today's Estimates-01A total disgrace!

That’s how St George South MP Dwight Sutherland has described Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer’s handling of the Employment Rights Tribunal.

Sutherland, who addressed a number of concerns on the labour front during his contribution to the 2015/2016 Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure yesterday, lamented that two years after the tribunal was set up it was still not ready to hear the more than 100 cases before it, including that of the dismissed National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers.

He took issue with the handling of the NCC dispute, suggesting that proper procedure was not followed and this would affect the former workers who were dismissed under Government’s retrenchment exercise last April in controversial circumstances.

“I ask the question this afternoon whether the cases of the NCC workers were properly referred to the tribunal or whether the conciliation process was bypassed and hence that is where we are,” Sutherland said.

“Because, under the Employment Rights Act, some matters have been sent straight to the tribunal without conciliation. Do not think that the tribunal can pick up the NCC case and just hear the case because the Act calls for hearing cases as they come and there are many cases that went to the tribunal before the NCC cases.”

Sutherland made the point that the work of the tribunal was hampered from the start because the Labour Minister failed in her duty to put proper procedures in place.

He argued that the subsequent resignation of eight of the nine members of the tribunal last December was another demonstration of the minister operating by “trial and error”.

He insisted that Dr Byer deserved nothing less than a failing grade.

“Any decent minister, instead of calling on the tribunal to get ahead with the job, would have ensured that the tribunal had the tools to get the job done because look what happened – the first tribunal board resigned, but yet now you have the second board you are putting the same things in place that the first board asked for. What a disgrace!”

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