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October 26, 2023

Luke Martinez on occupational health and safety: ‘Enact this bill now’

Posted: Thursday, October 26, 2023. 7:34 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: President of the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB), Luis “Luke” Martinez, repeated his call for an Occupational Safety and Health Act at a meeting of the Senate today in Belmopan.

Martinez, filling in as temporary Senator, informed the Senate that a deadline set following a meeting with Labour Minister Oscar Requeña and previously with Prime Minister John Briceño for September was missed: “For every day that we continue to ignore the fact that health and safety is not important, we have workers in this country that continue to fall to their deaths or serious injuries. We met with the Prime Minister a few months ago, and he [gave] us his commitment that in September, this Government would have tabled the [bill]; this is October.”

Referring to the death of Wilmer Coyi at the Belize Defence Force Air Wing following a workplace accident this week, Martinez declared, “Sorry cannot bring back a life; meaningless compensation cannot bring back a life; but if we ensure that there is safety in the workplace, we will save lives.”

He added that there was tripartite support for a new version of the Bill from the Congress, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), and a representative from the Ministry of Labour, and the Minister was written a joint letter concerning the writing of the legislation, only to be told after six months that legal advice had been sought and a new process needed to be conducted, and now there is a 60-day timeline for the advancement of the bill to the National Assembly. He noted that workers do not have the same protection as employers nor consumers.

 

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