Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo is warning of stricter enforcement for employers who continually flout the country’s labour laws.
Speaking on the sidelines of an occupational health and safety seminar at the Hilton Barbados Resort, Byer-Suckoo could not provide details, but complained openly that far too many labour laws were still not being obeyed.
“From reports reaching me, the Employment Rights Act, the Safety and Health at Work Act and a number of other [pieces of] legislation, even some older and more basic legislation . . . there are employers who are not following the letter of the law,” Dr Byer-Suckoo said.
She warned that her ministry was prepared “to come down hard” on such employers, while pointing out that there were penalties attached to the various pieces of legislation.
“As we renew legislation you would notice that we have even put steeper penalties because a penalty in 1950 is not a penalty today. So we are actually doing that as well,” she cautioned, while lamenting that “we still have people who are saying, ‘oh, they are not likely to get to me anytime soon’.”
However, Dr Byer-Suckoo said her ministry and the Labour Department had taken note of the complaints and were committed to following up on them, even though she acknowledged that a lack of resources was hampering that process.
Earlier, the minister had used her address to Monday’s opening of the Tenth Annual Caribbean Electric Utility Services Corporation (CARILEC) Occupational Health and Safety Seminar, which is taking place in Barbados for the first time, to encourage employers to make health and safety a value for their organization.
However, Manager of Health, Safety and the Environment at Barbados Light & Power Brian Reece cautioned that efforts to adequately ensure that companies were complying with safety requirements continued to be hampered by a lack of resources.
“The truth regarding safety in the region . . . is that in most of our developing countries, unlike the developed countries, there tends to be legislation but the resources needed to police the safety management of companies by the regulator are not always sufficient to ensure compliance. This then requires self regulation and a willingness to do so,” Reece told participants in the seminar, which is taking place under the theme Safety: A Value Not a Priority.