Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2020. 12:51 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: The Public Service Union (PSU) and Christian Workers’ Union (CWU) have raised their concerns ahead of today’s debate of the Labour (Amendment) Bill, 2020 in separate media releases.
The PSU argues that the bill is skewed in favour of employers, “giving them discretions on the basis of a ‘state of emergency’ to make certain decisions which on the face of it may erode the right of the worker. The Bill also seems to whittle down mandatory sections of the substantive Labour Law to afford the employers power of discretion. In view of the forgoing, we find that the Bill does not place employees on an equal footing although the word agreement is tossed around.”
The CWU adds that the changes to sections 116, and addition of section 131A, “as now framed pose significant threats to Belizean workers, especially non-unionized ones.” Of course, it does support the change to section 122, “to regularize a long-standing tradition on the Belize waterfront.”
Both unions say the Bill was never discussed with the social partners via the Labour Advisory Board.
The CWU adds, “Undoubtedly the COVID-19 Pandemic has been a major disruptor and game changer; nevertheless, there is no need to abandon tripartite social dialogue and succumb to crass opportunism. The circumstances require genuine partnership to see this Nation emerge from the crisis with win-win outcomes for the largest possible proportion of Belizeans. Failure to meaningfully engage with all sectors will only exacerbate the widening gaps between the haves and growing have-nots. Belize cannot afford to go down that path.”
We’ll have more from the ongoing debate in Belmopan shortly.
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