Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo is accusing some employers here of violating the spirit of the Employment Rights Act by severing workers without first consulting the Labour Department.
The Government senator said while those companies stuck to the letter of the law due to the number of people being made redundant, too many of them avoided the process of consultation simply because it was not a legal requirement.
“Today some think of dialogue only in relation to the consultation that is required by the Employment Rights Act on termination of ten per cent of staff. Unfortunately some have used the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the Employment Rights Act and the underpinning spirit of the protocol of the Act to suggest that it may only be in that one situation that dialogue becomes necessary,” Byer-Suckoo said in an address at a National Insurance Scheme awards function at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre over the weekend.
The minister said the Social Partnership of Government, employers, and labour unions had engineered a culture of dialogue which had become a way of life that ought not be taken for granted.
She said consultation before retrenchment “prevents misunderstandings and creates a more pleasant and productive work environment”, further advising employers “not to supplant this dialogue but to build on it”.
The Minister of Labour also sought to assuage businesses that complained that the Employment Rights Act unfairly favoured workers, revealing that changes would be made to the legislation to address those concerns.
“Such comments . . . give me pause because surely it is obvious to all that in the workplace, especially with only about 30 per cent of workers having trade union representation, the employer who pays the piper wields all the power [and the Act] was designed to bring a balance of power to a relationship that by its very nature, is and has always been one-sided, but in favour of the employer,” she said.
“In the next few days the tripartite partners will sit to review proposals that have been put forward for amending the Employment Rights Act. “In the main the employers’ fears would be allayed if they provide the obligatory statement of particulars and the disciplinary procedures,” Byer-Suckoo added.