Labor Day celebrations promote equality for workers

PM Philip J Pierre
Prime Minister Pierre said there is no reason why the government should “deliberately seek conflict” with its workers as the country’s largest employer.

Speaking during an open session commemoration of Labor Day on Wednesday, Labor Commissioner Joseph Joseph reiterated authorities’ concerns that the Labor Code needs to be corrected to better meet the needs of workers and employers.

While delving into some of the key tasks the department had carried out over the past two years and more, Joseph commented on a new initiative being implemented in the labor department entitled: Domestic Employment, where potential employees can apply for local jobs through the labor department .

“We have had a position in the department where the focus has been on overseas employment (recruitment of workers for overseas entities)…(but) this year we want to (focus) on local employment,” the Labor commissioner noted.

Joseph admitted that one of the challenges facing the department concerns its visibility in the public sphere, which is why “we embarked on a sensitization program.”

He highlighted some of the achievements made at the Vieux Fort branch where they received 14 assignments and completed 11 of these cases.

He noted that the Labor Code has a number of areas that need to be revised, and urged the Employers’ Federation and other employers’ associations to “revisit at least three of these areas.”

Joseph listed these areas as maternity leave, severance pay and the further development of artificial intelligence.

Joseph added: “As we look to the future, let us recommit to the principles of solidarity and social justice that are at the heart of the labor movement. Let us stand by our resolve to build a world where every worker is treated with dignity and respect, (and) where no one is left behind.”

Minister of Labor Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte emphasized that government officials and union representatives in general have a responsibility to educate workers on the principles of the union movement. She noted that the main political parties in Saint Lucia “emerged from the Trade Union Movement.”

Referring to the status of the local workforce, the minister said there is a very thin line between unions, employers and employees, and “it depends on what role you play at a given time.”

Noting the need to strengthen the Ministry of Labor, Minister Poyotte called the Labor Day activity a “tripartite” undertaking involving the government, the Employers’ Federation and the Trade Unions.

Within the Labor Department, she said, concerns include strengthening the Occupational Safety and Health Unit. She added that the Employment Unit should be expanded, “so that that unit becomes the employment center for the local people here.”

The minister noted that the Work Permit Department also needs to be strengthened because “we need to monitor the labor force in the country to ensure that when we issue work permits, we do not deny a Saint Lucian a job.”

Also, she said, the structure housing administration and labor relations officials needs to be renovated.

Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre contextualized the origins of the country’s labor movement toward its modern development, noting that the government continues to provide incentives to businesspeople so that they can “expand their businesses, make profits…and they can improve the economy.” generational wealth of the people of Saint Lucia.”

He emphasized that after all the processes and procedures leading to the implementation of minimum wage standards, “Saint Lucia will have a living wage for the workers of this country.

The Prime Minister said there is no reason why the government should “deliberately seek conflict” with its workers as the country’s largest employer. “What we are aiming for is to improve the quality of life of the people of Saint Lucia,” he stressed.

“We also want companies to make money and generate employment, because the government cannot provide employment to everyone in this country.”

Other presentations were given by representatives of the Saint Lucia Employers’ Federation (SLEF) and the Trade Union Federation (TUF).