Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Harmonise Caribbean labour laws

There is a suggestion that efforts should be made to harmonise labour laws across the Caribbean region.

President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, His Honour Sir Dennis Byron, offered the remarks while delivering the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the International Labour Organisation’s Sub-regional Gender Equality Workshop for Judges in the Caribbean at the Hilton Barbados Hotel on Monday morning. The leading jurist argued that the region would benefit if the labour laws in countries were similar, if not identical. He maintained that it would not only enhance integration, but assist with several of the goals and dreams of CARICOM, especially as it relates to the freedom of movement of people.
President of the Caribbean Court of Justice, His Honour Sir Dennis Byron,
chats with Barbados’ Minister of Labour, Social Security and Human Resource
Development, Senator Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, during Monday's opening ceremony.

“One of the weaknesses of the Caribbean region is that commitment to the most laudable objectives is not always followed up by the necessary critical action… Although Caribbean people have to a large extent the same high regard for the principles of human rights, it is not always equally expressed in our constitutions and the same is true of the labour laws in our respective countries,” he lamented.

He said that a brief review of the application of labour law and gender equality in the region, shows that the introduction of laws in each member state has not been consistent and has not been harmonised.

As a result, Sir Dennis noted that there has been significant variance in the law from country to country.

“I think it is appropriate to consider the wonderful work that the CARICOM Secretariat has done in so many areas of preparing model laws that can be adopted in each member state with minor adjustments, and the area of labour law is one such area that is suitable for this type of intervention,” he said.

The CCJ President added, “So there is a host of statutes that address non-discrimination, equal remuneration, maternity leave, sexual harassment, HIV/AIDS, the promotion of equal opportunities in employment related matters, but I would think that it should not be too much to hope for, that these statutes can be consolidated, harmonised and kept in conformity with international labour standards.”

Sir Dennis’ comments came as he noted that respect for human rights is a key factor in economic development and social stability, and it would be beneficial for the region, considering that the CCJ is the only appellate court in the region, for there to be a consistent regime in the area of labour law. (JRT)

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