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Labour Law Changes Are ‘Not Set In Stone’

By NATARIO McKENZIE

Tribune Business Reporter

nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net

The private sector is reviewing recent recommendations by the Government to amend the Employment Act, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation’s (BCCEC) chief executive stressing that the proposals “are not set in stone”.

Edison Sumner acknowledged that the recommendations had been presented at last Thursday’s meeting of the National Tripartite Council.

“The only thing we can say at this point is that we have received these recommendations, along with the other social partners, being the trade unions who are members of the Council as well,” he added.

“The Chamber is now reviewing the recommendations. We will be canvassing our members, talking to our partners in industry, and international partners as well. After we would have done our own consultation then we would be able to provide our response to those recommendations, understanding that they are only proposed recomendations.”

Mr Sumner continued: “They are not set in stone. We are now required as a Tripartite Council to make recommendations back to the Minister of Labour. The Chamber will be formulating an official position, and once that has been completed we will be writing our own recommendations to the Council.”

Several recommendations to the Employment Act have been outlined in a Department of Labour document seen by The Tribune.  Among the recommendations is that it would be a criminal offense for employers to fail to consult, or notify, the relevant minister or bargaining agent about their intention to make 10 or more workers redundant.

This would be “punishable by fine or imprisonment or both”, according to the proposal. 

The Government has also recommended that employers consult the minister and bargaining agent at least 60 days prior to the redundancy exercise, whenever they are proposing to make 10 or more employees redundant.

According to the document, the Government plans to not only force employers to give it and unions substantial notification of redundancy plans and to consult them, but to also remove the cap in the Employment Act which ensures there is a 12-year limit on the redundancy pay an employee is entitled to under the law.

The recommendations come amid the ongoing dispute between trade unions and Sandals over 600 workers recently being made redundant.

Shane Gibson, ministerof labour and national insurance, told Tribune Business that once the Tripartite Council had made its final recommendations, the issue would  be before him.

“I don’t even know what it is. I don’t get involved until it is finished and they send it to me,” he said.

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