BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –- The Labour Department’s constructive role and responsible engagement in labour matters has resulted in a peaceful industrial climate according to Prime Minister Dr. the Hon Timothy Harris.
“We consider we have a very peaceful industrial climate and that has been largely to the fact that the Labour Department has been a respected and responsible mediator in matters of industrial relations,” said Dr. Harris. “Indeed their own involvement in the Lutron Liamuiga Ltd matter resulted in their workers being offered the most attractive redundancy and long service benefits ever been provided by an entity.”
Dr. Harris made the remarks during the launch of the 2019 Work Plan of the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affair after a worship service on Feb. 3 at the Faith Tabernacle Church of God in Green Tree Housing Project, Old Road.
“I want to commend the Senior Minister in the Federal Government and Minister of Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affairs, the Hon Vance Amory, and the Department of Labour for undertaking the special service on Sunday,” said Dr. Harris. “It is part of their effort of refocusing the staff and assist the national community to recognise the critical role the Labour Department has been playing and wishes to continue to play in the future.”
According to the Prime Minister, what was achieved by the Department of Labour shows their usefulness even in difficult times facing the workers, who have oftentimes confused the department with a trade union. The department has acted as an honest and an unbiased broker in labour relations, where it is instinctively on the side of neither labour or employer, and applying the labour laws to ensure social justice.
St. Kitts and Nevis has one of the highest minimum wages within the region. The Labour Department is coordinating efforts to review minimum wages. As part of the government policy to explore every avenue, and to improve work conditions, Labour Minister Amory has begun consultations in with Labour, employer, and the department to have discussions regarding a review.
“We want that process to go to a satisfactory conclusion, and then the recommendations will come forward for action,” said Dr Harris. “I want in that regard to thank the trade unions, the employers, the business community and the department because the discussions so far have been constructive and helpful.”
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affairs Ron Dublin-Collins, said the launch of the ministry’s work plan in a church setting, as they sought God’s guidance and blessings for the year, was the second in a row having launched the 2018 work plan at the Zion Moravian Church in Basseterre.
“The church service encourages the unified efforts of the ministry,” explained Dublin-Collins. “We are seeking to be a model for the rest of civil service in terms of our performance (and) in terms of our organisation of standards because we are dealing with labour standards. So it must be first permanent and obvious in the Department of Labour.”
At the worship service Senior Minister the Hon Vance Amory made a monetary contribution to the church, which was received by Bishop and Senior Pastor Joseph Henville. According to Dublin-Collins, the contribution was part of Community Outreach Assistance Programme the ministry is doing in partnership with all churches in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The ministry provides assistance to churches that are hosting outreach programmes with the communities in youth development and feeding the poor and hungry. The donation to the Faith Tabernacle Church of God was to assist in the outreach programmes that they are doing for the communities around them.