Blame the Minister!

BEC clears the air on break-up of tribunal

A week after its three representatives and five others resigned en masse from the nine-member Employment Rights Tribunal(ERT), the Barbados Employers Confederation (BEC) has broken its silence on the matter.

In a statement issued yesterday, the BEC pointed the accusing finger at the Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, while taking issue with her recent suggestion that the tribunal was headed down the “the wrong path”.

Minister of Labour  Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo
Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo

The umbrella body for employers also gave what it said was the primary reason for the December 5 resignations of its immediate past President Dr Hensley Sobers, Trustee and past President Dr Ashwell Thomas and Executive Director Colin Walcott.

It said contrary to the provisions of the Employment Rights Act (ERA), the tribunal was issued with “a direct and specific instruction by the Minister of Labour” even though “neither the Minister of Labour nor any other person has any such power to direct the tribunal.

“Any attempt to accommodate the said directive would have put the integrity of the ERT under a severe cloud as well as the personal and professional integrity of our representatives,” the BEC said.

“It was considered that their resignations were the only option available for exercise,” the statement added.

The BEC also pointed out that as far back as 2010 during tri-partite discussions on the draft Employment Rights Bill, the employers’ representatives consistently and repeatedly brought to the attention of the meetings, the need to have regulations to accompany the legislation, including the Rules of Procedure for the ERT.

However, the BEC said they were ignored.

“To suggest that the ERT should mimic the operations of some of the National Insurance tribunals, which are considered to be simple operations, is misleading as the said NIS tribunals do in fact have a fully functioning and staffed Secretariat supporting the work of the various tribunals,” the BEC further pointed out.

“The [ERT] tribunal, in accordance with Section 6 of the ERA established rules based on research and precedents to ensure consistent and appropriate application given the nature of its work.

“Cognizant of Section 48 of the ERA, the tribunal created a case management system to ensure harmony between its operations and that of the industrial relations arm of the Labour Department as well as to achieve delivery of expeditious justice. To suggest that the tribunal was ‘on the wrong path’ is unfortunate, as the role of the tribunal is very clearly set out in the Employment Rights Act, 2012-9,” it added.

Following the recent break up of the nine-member body, the BEC has now been invited by Dr Byer-Suckoo to submit the names of three nominees for consideration for appointment to the new ERT to be constituted.

The BEC said the process of identifying and nominating those representatives would commence “shortly” and it had “undertaken to provide such nominations, subject to ratification by our Council, by the close of business on Friday, January 30, 2015”.

Source: (PR)

4 Responses to Blame the Minister!

  1. Andrea Rollins December 24, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Very clearly written and easy to understand (by any average Barbadian) Labour laws need to be in place in this country. Currently for the average person to understand the labour laws in Barbados they will need to call the Labour department or a lawyer to speak to someone who will tell them what is their rights, this should only happen when there is disagreement between employee and employer on the clearly written laws of a country as to the intent of a policy or law.

    If the ERA is suppose to help establish clarity to the rights of Employees and Employers then oversight from government should happen but should be no way for either entity to contravene the laws to get they own agenda to happen. That is misuse of power and hopefully its against the laws of Barbados.

    I would really like to see for Barbados that the labour laws in place are so well written and Policed by government as to make all areas of employee/employer rights easily enforceable and having those laws follow international standards for the treatment of workers so as to make Barbados a preferred place to work.

    The laws established here in Barbados all need to be easily understood and should be taught in schools and workplaces so that everyone knows they rights an privileges according to what the laws have established. Those laws or rights also need to be updated to reflect the changes of the economic and social conditions in this country i.e. the minimum hourly wage.

  2. Santini More
    Santini More December 24, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Are we to understand that the Minister for Labour tried to ‘instruct’ the “independent” Employment Rights Tribunal???…She is either incompetent or stupid; no matterthe case, she should resign or be sacked….Of course I will not hold my breath as it would cause something of a dominoe effect on the whole of the Cabinet!

  3. seagul December 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Barbadians need to wake up and smell the garbage they have been sleeping on, they will realize that labour policy is an important issue and they need to make themselves aware. For labour laws to evolve with oversight from this west minster style government is wishful thinking. Barbados has no integrity standards or laws to deter the corruption of those who govern. Our political system has NO RULES about accountability, transparency, integrity & conflict of interest standards or laws that allow citizens to access government information.
    And if we in the Caribbean continue to be satisfied with economies based on tourism and off-shore financial services, we will remain forever vulnerable.. RESPECT agriculture-Respect dignity!!

  4. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock December 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I’ve, comprehend that from the first outburst of the minister an i posted this minister can’t get nothing done! I am on record.


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