Minister of Labour Colin Jordan has accused some construction companies in Barbados of unfairly treating their employees in an effort to win bids on projects.
Jordan leveled the accusation during debate in Parliament today on the Employment Rights Amendment Bill 2019. He said by refusing to pay the taxes of employees, those companies were able to outbid their competitors.
However, the minister warned that the Barbados Labour Party Government would not be doing those guilty companies any favours.
“There are construction companies in Barbados that are treating employees as self-employed, refusing to pay National Insurance for them [and] because they are not taking that cost they are able to underbid the decent companies that treat their employees as employees.
“I want to say to those construction companies that this Barbados Labour Party Government does not play in that kind of league. You are not going to gain our favour by bringing bags of money, because bags of money do not help us to see our workers as human beings. We are not selling the rights of our workers for any personal gains. This is not how this Government operates,” Jordan said.
“If it used to happen before, those days are over. Those days came to an end on May 24, 2018. The rights of workers must be respected in Barbados and those construction companies who refer to their workers as self-employed but indicate where they must work, what tools they must work with, provide the tools for them, give them uniforms, give them protective gear, do all the things that labour laws indicate would cause them to be seen as employees and not as self employed; all those construction companies which are doing that, as minister of labour and speaking on behalf of this Government we are asking them to cease and desist from that bad anti-worker practice.”
The minister also took issue with those “few” companies which he said frowned on their employees being members of trade unions.
He said work had already begun on formulating trade union legislation which would ensure workers’ rights were protected by law.
“There are a few companies where when an employee is found out to be joining or to have joined a trade union, the management of those establishments then seek to find all manner of reason to terminate the employment of that worker or those workers,” Jordan pointed out.
“I am saying to Barbados that is very bad behaviour, to seek to terminate a worker’s employment because that worker has sought to join a trade union and I want to put those bad employers and all other employers on notice that in our manifesto which we still see as a contract with our people, there is provision for us to bring recognition of trade union legislation. We have begun to work on it and we will bring it to this Parliament because we believe the rights of workers to associate freely and to bargain collectively is a fundamental right that must be protected by law.”