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Labor Education Seminar Launched in Belmopan Print E-mail
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Thursday, 15 May 2014 00:00

The first in a series of  ten labor education seminars was launched in Belmopan on Friday of last week at the George Price Center for Peace and Development. The seminar focused on employers and workers’ rights and responsibilities under the Belize Labor Legislation and International Labor Organization Convention, bringing together persons from both the private and public sectors.  It was also an opportunity for both workers and employees to be updated on the most current developments on labor issues.

In his welcoming address, His Worship the Mayor Simeon Lopez said “…employers and workers, this is the time for you to address the rights and responsibilities in the Belizean Work Force”.

Dylan Reneau, President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize also spoke about the benefits of an educational seminar. He said that the holistic training on all facets of labor administration blends with local and international commitments; assisting Belizeans to maintain favorable and harmonious industrial relations.

“…the labor laws and ILO conventions and bodies established for labor administration are critical, because they set out the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers, prescribe procedures and processes for settlement of industrial disputes and empower a body in this case the Labor Department to inspect and adjudicate issues in labor administration.”

Dylan Reneau congratulated the Labor Department on its initiatives and wished the Labor education seminar organizers much success.

Speaking on behalf of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry was Marilyn Pinelo-Lee, who stated that the Chamber values and fully understands the critical role of labor education to foster harmonious relations between employers and workers.

“In the spirit of true tri-partisanship, the Chamber has vested interest in promoting increased awareness in both employers and employees rights and responsibilities; as active members of the Labor Advisory we promote good working relations and environments conducive to work, we are committed to working along with all stakeholders towards these common goals.”

Hon. Godwin Hulse, Minister of Labour, Local Government, Rural Development, National Emergency Management and Immigration and Nationality Services was the keynote speaker at the Labor Seminar last Friday where several achievements were noted. The Minister announced the launching of a program within his Ministry called the Employment Agency Program, which intends to catalogue all the skills of Belizean workers as a first option for employment, before work permits are offered to foreign skilled workers.

“When we are satisfied that none of those persons meet the necessary requirements, we will offer the work permits and at the same time require that there be some training for our people, ” said the Hon. Godwin Hulse.

With both International and National funding, the Labor Department has also trained over 32 focal points across several companies in HIV/AIDS, announced  Hon. Godwin Hulse. Five companies have also been assisted to endorse and commence implementation in their work place policies. Having said policies in place means that over 600 employees are in a better position to receive workplace prevention and also have protection against discrimination because of their HIV Status.

“Any Government has a responsibility to treat all its citizens equitably, we cannot and will not withhold any service, any attention, be education, health or otherwise, from any single citizen,” said Hon. Godwin Hulse.

Another achievement within the Labor Department is the appointment of a Labor Advisory Board. The main function of this body is to undertake comprehensive review of all existing labor legislation with intention to recommend to Cabinet comprehensive labor legislation that meets modern industrial relation standards and are harmonized with other Countries of the Caribbean Community, CARICOM.

Minister Godwin Hulse has expressed satisfaction that work has just been completed on the agreement between BTL and its Union. The Minister’s team comprised of his CEO and other staff members of the Labor Department have just met with BEL and its Unions where “…there was some serious outstanding issues and were able in one day…resolve all the issues and pave the way for BEL and its Union to move forward with its enhanced agreement.”

Also on the agenda for discussion last Friday was a plan called the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, which in its latest draft seeks to secure and promote the safety, health and welfare of workers.