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Labour Department Getting Ready for CSME Challenges

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Friday, April 22, 2005 - Debate on the 2005/2006 Appropriation Bill began Thursday 21st April 2005, with a presentation from Minister for Labour, the Public Service and Cooperatives, Honourable Velon John.


The honourable member sought to articulate the projected development in the various sectors under his portfolio.  Minister John described the fusion of the three departments which he heads as a unique blend of interactions with the business sector, government and the society at large. 


He described the review period as a challenging one for his ministry, most specifically the Department of Labour Relations which he says had to mediate in a host of industrial relations matters and individual complaints from the St. Lucian workforce on their unfair treatment at their places of employment. 


He has suggested, though the department has been able to deal with the influx of industrial relations matters, the upcoming Caribbean Single Market and Economy will pose its own challenges of grievances, disputes and other work related problems. 


 “This past year was not so much a reflection of this expectation as the CSME has not been fully operationalized.  However, workers are increasingly expressing their need for union representation and collective bargaining approaches over individualized representation,” said Minister John.


He says the Labour Department has done all it can in the preparation of a New Labour Code for the island and hopes by July of this year the draft document can come before the House of Assembly for passage.  The process towards complete reform of the Public Sector he says is ongoing and continues to be a priority for government.


“We have had some trying times but in the main they were good and productive.  We all have endeavoured to build a public service that works for the people, but there is still some distance to go before we so attained for the goal of public sector reform is quality service, optimum service, compassionate service to the people of this country,” the Member of Parliament for Laborie said.

More St. Lucians, Minister John says are embracing the spirit of the cooperative movement by becoming members and active participants of its thrust.  He predicted further growth for this sector which he says has over the years become competitive with the banking sector.

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