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Stop Contract Labour

Regional Govt’s are urged.

The governments of St Lucia and four other Caribbean countries are being called upon to put an end to contract labour in their public services.

The call is coming from IndustriALL Global Union which held a recent meeting in Trinidad and Tobago. St Lucia’s National Workers Union (NWU) is affiliated to the new grouping.

IndustriALL Global Union is a global union federation, founded in Copenhagen on 19 June 2012. In 2015 IndustriALL Global Union represented more than 50 million working people in more than 140 countries, across the supply chains in mining, energy and manufacturing sectors at the global level.

IndustriALL Global Union’s call has been made in letters to the Prime Ministers  of St Lucia, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda and Barbados.

According to IndustriALL Global Union, precarious work and contract labour in particular is undermining decent work and sustainable jobs in the Caribbean region.  It said that discussions at the recent meeting revealed that not only were private sector companies guilty of eroding workers’ rights through the prevalent use of contract labour, but that the governments of the region were increasingly utilising this form of employment.

It said: “By nature, contract labour provides employees with a limited term of employment and therefore reduced job security. This is a vulnerable position for any worker. However, the impacts of precarious forms of employment, such as contract labour on workers are not limited to the workplace but transcend into their personal lives. As you would be aware it is almost impossible for someone employed on a short-term contract to access financing from lending institutions such as banks. This in turn restricts their options for personal development. Furthermore, not making someone a permanent offer for a position in which they have been functioning sends a negative signal which could be demoralising.”

IndustriALL added: “Given the key role which the public sector and state owned enterprises (SOEs) play in each of our Caribbean countries there is a need for a strong consistent cadre of public officers. A public sector where staff is changed frequently cannot provide a platform for sustainable economic development. Therefore, all involved – workers, each territory and our region collectively – would benefit from the elimination of the scourge of contract labour in the public sector and in SOEs. Greater job security would result in a more motivated and in turn a more productive workforce. This in turn would provide the foundation for increased growth and development. However, this transition away from contract labour towards decent work and sustainable jobs in the public service and in SOEs must not be implemented unilaterally by the region’s governments but must be executed through a process of dialogue and collaboration with the labour movement.”

The Union said it hoped that regional governments would appreciate the urgent need for the trend of increased contract labour to be reversed and therefore looked forward to collaborating with them in achieving this.

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