A Government minister is not convinced the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) really supports the new sexual harassment legislation and has questioned why its leader Mia Mottley did not spearhead debate for the party.
The issue was raised today by Christ Church West Central Member of Parliament Stephen Lashley even though opposition spokesman Dwight Sutherland and later St James North MP Edmund Hinkson said the BLP backed the Freundel Stuart administration on the legislation.
Lashley rejected Sutherland’s suggestion that the BLP had addressed the matter of sexual harassment in its amendments to the Public Sector Act in 2007.
He described as a “myth that the BLP had done what it needed to on the issue of sexual harassment”.
“I would have thought that this was a matter that the Leader of the Opposition would herself have been here to support. Sexual harassment legislation is an important bit of legislation,” Lashley told the House during debate on the Employment Sexual Harassment (Prevention) Bill 2017 in the House.
The MP said he was surprised that a “relatively new” MP was the person chosen to lead the Opposition’s position on the legislation.
Furthermore, Lashley urged Opposition MPs to “recognise that the definition of employer is extremely wide and that the definition of employer also will incorporate Members of Parliament who themselves are employing people”.
“I believe deep down that the BLP is not really supportive of this legislation. I believe that they were literally dragged . . . If they had the chance to enact legislation and never did to protect persons from sexual harassment particularly females, and they never did over the years, the only reason they are doing that now is because the Democratic Labour Party has brought legislation in here to protect persons from sexual harassment. They are timidly walking the line on this matter . . . I am not convinced that they are serious about this,” the Minister of Youth and Culture said.
He added: “There are not many CARICOM countries that have moved in the direction of having sexual harassment legislation and Barbados proudly will be joining about two countries in that regard.
“What is does is provide easy access for persons in the workplace who are faced with sexually suggestive issues that make them feel uncomfortable to find a way to complain about them,” he added. (IMC)