All for show!

Harassment law part of election ‘window dressing’, charges Opposition

The Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) says it supports Government’s new sexual harassment legislation, but today blasted the Freundel Stuart administration, accusing it of “window dressing” as the country nears a general election.

Member of Parliament for St George South Dwight Sutherland led the Opposition’s response in the Lower House to the measure, which was passed in the Upper Chamber earlier this week.

Sutherland, who was particularly critical of his immediate political opponent, Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, who piloted the bill in the Senate, said he was “amazed at the malaise that has existed in the Ministry of Labour for the past ten years as it relates to sexual harassment.

“But you can come now and tell me that you are bringing four or five pieces of legislation, especially the sexual harassment legislation on the eve of an election,” he said.

“This is where my difficulty comes with the Democratic Labour Party. You are window dressing as it relates to this legislation. You had ten years from 2008 to present to address the whole policy statement and the code of conduct, training and sensitization within the public service – the largest employer – and you did nothing,” Sutherland told the Lower Chamber.

“It has been painful to watch this struggle to address legislation and reform by this Government . . . . Nine years of lethargy and nothing done as it relates to sexual harassment legislation,” he insisted, while pointing out that it was the former BLP administration that had defined sexual harassment in an amendment to the Public Service Act and had made it an offence for which public officers could be dismissed.

Sutherland said it was therefore regrettable that Government had taken so long to address the legislation in shaping workplace priorities.

“We are glad it is here and we support this legislation, but do not let us window dress and try to behave as if the Minister of Labour has all of a sudden awakened because she has recognized that she has lost the battle a long time,” he said of Byer-Suckoo who he unseated in St George South in the last general election in 2013.

“I run marathons, I don’t do 100 metre sprints,” he further warned Byer-Suckoo, who is expected to oppose him again in the constituency once the election bell is rung.

“You can’t just wake up and decide you are going to rush the Prime Minister to rush in all these legislation just to make it appear as if the Minister of Labour is doing something,” he stressed.

And while Sutherland repeated the Opposition’s support of the bill, he expressed considerable reservation with the increased responsibility being placed on the office of the Chief Labour Officer (CLO).

According to him, the CLO’s office was already burdened with its traditional duties as well as those imposed by the Employment Rights Act.

During his hour-long presentation, he cited several issues with the bill in its present form.

He told the House that victims should be given more than what is currently prescribed under the sexual harassment law to write to the employer and to make a formal complaint to the CLO.

“Three months is a very short time and when you look at an employee suffering from depression . . . home from work and being [ashamed] as a result of the sexual harassment . . . I think three months is a very short time because that is your recovery time.

“I think this should be increased and it should be a minimum of three months and a maximum of a year,” he contended.

6 Responses to All for show!

  1. Saga Boy October 21, 2017 at 1:57 am

    You mean up to now you don’t know how to debate with any sense? The BLP had 14 years in power and most of this legislation laid dormant. The ERA was started by the BLP. Sexual harassment was started by them as well as the Health and Safety Act. The Minister of Labour did in 10 years what the BLP failed to do in more than 14 years. Employees now have more rights than they have ever had. You should have sat down after thanking the Minister and then seemingly changing your mind to thank the staff.

    Reply
  2. Sherlock Holmes. October 21, 2017 at 6:42 am

    It baffles me how this man got a place in parliament.

    Reply
  3. harry turnover October 21, 2017 at 6:54 am

    I have to agree with Sutherland…this is another of their LAST MINUTE show pieces and stay tuned for more like the salary increase for civil servants,the REAL road works,the REAL NEW Sanitation trucks and a host of others.
    That bill WILL NOT stop sexual harassment in the work place.As a matter of fact it would lead to MORE ..real and false accusations now that wunna put more power in WOMEN HANDS.

    Reply
  4. Saga Boy October 21, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Harry what has been the impact of sexual harassment legislation in your neck of the woods? You speak pure adulterated nonsense. Stop opposing for opposite sake. There are women and men in this country who need to be protected. You are only being negative because the good minister continues to do a good job protecting workers and giving them more rights.

    Reply
  5. Ras October 22, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    Two ah dem running, dem hiding
    dem won’t show up, what a disgrace in a high place
    cant face the fire but dem got a lot of power
    If yuh want wuk help me n I gine help u
    If yuh horn me I gine bite u
    Fire Fire

    Sexual harassment legislation to thee fore

    Reply
  6. Ras October 22, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Ryan was not speaking for the BLP is Smutherland speaking for BLP or Rock Hard Cement cause one minute he repeating the Opposition’s support of the bill, next minute he expressing considerable reservation with the increased responsibility being placed on the office of the Chief Labour Officer

    When yuh wearing so much different hats then it is hard to really figure out who you really representing at any giving time.

    Reply

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