The University of the West Indies Open Campus in Belize along with the Ministry of Labour, Rural Development and Local Government is hosting a three day workshop. The workshop is being facilitated by Dr. Noel Cowell, a senior lecturer in employment relations at Mona School of Business and Management UWI and Danny Roberts, Head of the Hugh Lawson Shearer Trade Union Institute Jamaica. It has the participation of union members as well as representatives from the public and private sector. Minister of Labour, Hugo Patt, spoke of the importance of the workshop in moving away from an adversarial approach to bargaining.
“We want to move away from the traditional culture of adversarial industrial relations into one where we can empower people with the kind of tools the kinds of skills necessary so that we can better appreciate our industries and we come up with the kinds of ideas and more importantly that aspect of being able to work together and leave the individual agendas aside and making sure that we understand that as an industry we need from each other. We have brought along the employers, the unions, we have brought on people from the private sector so that we all get to know, get to learn from the workshop that we will be having in the following three days that the tools that we present, the tools we use to empower people of one sector we do to all. The approach that we were bringing and more importantly the expertise that is brought up today is one that will empower people with the kind of tools and energies that we need for us to form a team and cohesive effort rather than an individualistic one.”
Labor Commissioner, Ivan Williams spoke about the effects that the training will have on the participants, emphasizing that it should improve the relationship among the government, trade unions and employers and pave the way for smoother process when negotiating.
“Today we have representatives from the trade unions and we have representatives from the management. We just believe and studies have shown that over the years you have to look at the bigger picture. I don’t agree that it is there to silence the trade unions because we are not taking away any rights or responsibilities from them in terms of their right to certain actions if they so feel that that is the way to go but we believe that strikes and lock outs are a waste of resources. Remember members can strike, the union can strike and the employer can lock you out of the business both of them have a right to that and so this is not about silencing, this is about educating and getting a better appreciation because we feel that there is a need to look at different approaches and to maintain a better industrial relation climate in Belize.”
The workshop ends on Thursday.