In a bold appeal, the Minister of Home Affairs and Labour, Mr. Kenneth Hodge, encouraged workers – across any sector or industry – to form labour unions so that their “collective voice” could heard. He said: “I want to stress to the workers to consider forming yourselves into a union. Individually, you have no voice. Collectively, the employers have to perk up and take notice.” Mr. Hodge made the remarks during the government’s weekly press conference on Monday, January 17.
Minister Hodge spoke to address concerns and labour disputes voiced by workers – especially in the hotel and hospitality sector on island. He observed that for several months workers had taken to social media platforms to lodge complaints about issues of abuse and discrimination at their work places. Directing persons to follow established protocols for registering work-place complaints, Mr. Hodge urged them to “make their first port of call the Labour Department – to report any issue. When matters escalate and reach either the court system, a tribunal, or mediation, ‘process’ becomes very important. To bypass the process, you cannot hope for any sort of favourable outcome.”
He further admonished workers to take an interest now in their own welfare by forming unions – either within the hospitality sector or a general worker’s union. “Forming a union is better late than never,” he said. “Workers need to seriously consider banding themselves together at this time.”
Mr. Hodge continued: “Unions are part of a world-wide network and have access to resources around the world – training and other resources. I have seen the benefits of being in a union, and it is also going to be of benefit to you moving forward.”
He noted that while the government or labour department cannot do everything, they are looking into making some amendments to the Labour Laws that will assist workers in this regard – forming unions.