Trade unionist calls for review of IDT

Trade unionist calls for review of IDT

Senior staff reporter

Thursday, September 17, 2020

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TRADE unionist John Levy says a special committee of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) should be established to review its work and service delivery.

“It was set up for a particular reason, with certain deliverables in mind in terms of time frame, and that has not been happening for varying reasons,” the general secretary for the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE) told the Jamaica Observer.

He said the tribunal has lost a number of members for different reasons, and that the body, without urgent attention, could be plunged into crisis.

“The IDT is going to need somebody in the mould of a Justice Bryan Sykes, to look at the mandate of the IDT and to get it to deliver the kind of service in the timely manner that was envisaged. Right now, people are waiting four years, nine years, after it goes through the different stages after the IDT. It needs some focus and attention now, and the new minister must hit the ground running,” he stated.

The UCASE general secretary pointed to the IDT's September 9 multimillion-dollar ruling against Petrojam in the dismissal of former General Manager Howard Mollison, which came four years after the matter was initiated.

“The whole review of the IDT and its deliverables and its intentions needs urgent attention. Even the staff at the IDT, I don't get the impression that they are as motivated as they should be,” he insisted.

Levy said, too, that the compensation package for the panel of the tribunal needs overhaul.

“When it comes to things like health insurance and their terms of service, it needs some amount of review, and 'insurance', in terms of their protection against possible removal after each three-year period. Their benefit structure also needs to be reviewed, health insurance, I think it should be minimum mandatory that they have proper health insurance,” he continued.

Levy also said succession planning for the IDT, which was established under the Labour Relations and Industrial Disputes Act of 1975 that regulates relations between employers and workers, needs serious attention.

In the meantime, the UCASE general secretary said his organisation is comfortable with the appointment of career civil servant Errol Miller as the new IDT chairman

“Based on his background and his professional approach during his days at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, he should be in good stead to provide some leadership at the IDT,” Levy told the Observer.

At the same time, he said UCASE is also concerned that there is a move to shift redundancy issues from the labour ministry to the courts.

“The Ministry of Labour seems to be now surrendering its authority and its responsibility on this particular matter, and that needs serious attention because the ministry is basically washing its hands of redundancy matters, which has no basis in law,” he said.

Levy said his union would be raising the issue, as well as the new pension arrangements that the Government outlined in its election manifesto, with the new labour minister. He said the situation whereby some individuals, upon reaching retirement age, discover that employers have made no pension arrangements for them, also needs to be addressed.

“We believe that some mandatory pension arrangement must be put in place for every single working person in Jamaica, we cannot allow this thing to continue,” he suggested.

Former Education Minister Karl Samuda now has responsibility for these matters and others, having been appointed to minister of labour and social security on Sunday.

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