Over the next few months, several workplaces across the island can expect a visit from Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan.
This was revealed today at the start of one such tour that took the Minister, his Permanent Secretary, Alyson Forte and a team from the Labour Department to three establishments in and around the environs of Harbour Road.
These were Chefette Restaurant, Fontabelle, and Oran Ltd. and Crucible on the Harbour Road.
Explaining the rationale behind the visits, Minister Jordan said: “We made a decision in the Ministry of Labour that it would make sense for me and my Permanent Secretary, Alyson Forte, as persons responsible for policy and executing policy in the Ministry of Labour, to have an idea of what happens on the shop floor, in the places where people work. It is easy to make statements about what should happen in the work place, how workers should be protected, but if there is not a clear understanding about the reality on the ground, then it is possible to make pronouncements that may not bear a relation, or a proper relation, to the reality.
“We made a decision that even though we have people who work in the Ministry – particularly in the Labour Department, factory inspectors (now called Occupational Safety and Health officers), we thought that at the policy and leadership level we actually had to come out of the office and come into workplaces where workers actually operate and see for ourselves the conditions that they would be experiencing, and have a greater capacity to speak to certain issues when issues come to the fore. And, it could also give us the ability to speak to issues that may not yet come to the fore, but we would have seen as we toured various workplaces.”
Acknowledging that the Ministry was aware workers existed in various environments, Mr. Jordan said it was important for his team to not only see those that would be considered dangerous, or those with heavy machinery, but different kinds of peculiarities and challenges.
The Labour Minister also disclosed his intention to allocate a six-month time frame to cover as many businesses as possible, across a range of industries and across the geography of the island. This, he noted, would stretch from St. Michael to the airport, and as far north as St. Peter and St. Lucy.