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Labour Department: 1940 – 2015 Promoting Justice in Employment
It should be noted that for 100 years after emancipation in 1838 our people continued to exist and toil in this land under slave-like conditions. Real change, and indeed real emancipation, began to come about after the broad masses rose up in the expressions of discontent which we now refer to as the civil disturbances of 1937.
The Labour Officers Act was tabled in the House of Assembly in 1938 and the 1st Labour Officer – Guy Perrin took up duties in January 1940. Reflecting the reality of the times, Perrin is quoted in 1946 – the most unhappy state of affairs is to have a community with a smouldering sense of injustice which has no voice or outlet.
Together with the Trade Union Act of 1940, the arrival of the Labour Officer marked the beginning of the modern system of labour management which is in use today.
As we go about our daily lives in a free democratic society in which the system of labour management stands as one element of our social stability, we as Barbadians must be cognizant of the role the Labour Department has played in the transformation of our society through delivery of the services which support its mandate: To
– receive and investigate all representation of employers and workers with a view to the settlement of disputes and grievances and to conciliation;
– advise with regard to the betterment of industrial relations and generally on labour matters;
– ensure the due enforcement of relevant labour legislation; and
– give technical information and advice as to the most effective means of complying with the said laws.