A workshop on labour mediation began today. The event is organized by the Ministry of Labour in collaboration with the International Labour Organization. The participants include representatives from the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, employers and labour officers. Labour Commissioner, Ivan Williams spoke with Love News.
Ivan Williams, Commissioner of Labour: “It is one of our functions to act as a neutral third party to meet with the parties and help them resolve it. So from time to time we do have requests and in this climate that we are having today we feel that there’s a possibility that it can get even worse.”
Reporter: Briefly mention some of the things that are being discussed here today.
Ivan Williams, Commissioner of Labour: “The things being discussed here today are the role of a mediator and the important neutral position you must take, some do’s and don’ts; you’re not an arbitrator you are not there to make a decision or you’re not like a judge you’re a person who facilitates so it’s teaching you the role and function of a mediator and how to stay in a a neutral position by the very language, by the actions, by listening and all of those techniques being developed. So that at the end of the day you are not the one who is going to solve the issue, it is you helping the parties to solve their own issues through a win win situation in industrial relations as we call it rather than a win and loser. Once the issues are identified you try to work on a common ground to find out the interest of the parties and try to suggest ways that are in a sense win win. At the labour department we do some form of mediation through complaints. If a complainant comes to us and there is no union representation at the workplace we can use both law and mediation to resolve a labor complaint. At this level though we are looking at the trade union where a trade union exists and so it is the trade union, or whoever is representing the workers and the whoever is the employer at that level where the request comes in either by both party or by either party because most of the time we either come in either one party asks for the mediation/consultation or both parties in some instances ask for a third party- they’ve reached an end they cannot solve their differences they ask for a third party and it’s a step in the direction because when mediation if not successful that is not the end of it we can then go to arbitration and even to the court this is just a third party intervention which is usually voluntary. We do have situations where there is forced medication reconciliation but that takes place in situations where that business is where an essential service exists because the Minister does have powers to address disputes where it’s an essential service and it’s likely to affect the interest of the populace.”
Love News also spoke with Rainer Pritzer, Senior Specialist for Social Dialogue and Labour Administration at the ILO office for the Caribbean.
Rainer Pritzer, Senior Specialist for Social Dialogue and Labor Administration: “We are going through a program on conciliation/mediation techniques and skills- what it is, what is involved and then we have a lot of exercises that we are carrying out to make clear what we need and give an opportunity to the participants to practice what we are talking about in terms of keeping conflicts low and doing a successful conciliation mediation. The objective in the end is to address these conflicts as early as possible before they become a bigger conflict and turn into real dispute that you keep these conflicts low, perhaps you can prevent it from turning into a full scale dispute and if it is a dispute where there are still ways how to negotiate how to deal with this dispute out it’s becoming more delicate now, it’s a little more difficult the reason why we want to address it as early as possible but there are still better ways and not so good ways to address conflicts and disputes and we are trying to get that across, how to resolve these disputes as early as possible and as amicably as possible.”
Mediation is a voluntary third party intervention to resolve a dispute within an organization.