Caribbean unions push for workplace audit

02 May 2020 05:00

 At a time when many employers are shutting down their operations, placing workers on remote work or paid leave and prioritising physical distancing, BWI affiliates in Jamaica and Bermuda are closely monitoring COVID-19-related labour issues. 

In Jamaica, the Bustamante Industrial Union (BITU), has called on the government to conduct a workplace audit of business process outsourcing (BPO) companies, arguing that while some companies follow health protocols, many do not. This put many workers, including BPO informal workers, whose services are in greater demand, at risk of COVID-19 infection. 

BITU has also denounced the suspension of negotiations between BPO companies and trade unions, which could have ensured and fulfilled the minimum health and safety requirements needed for workplaces to operate. 

"Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the best ways to protect workers is through negotiations and social dialogue with trade unions. Together, we can support the recovery of the national economy and ensure that workers will not be put in unnecessary danger during this period,” said Shandra Harriott, General Secretary of BITU and Vice-president of the Regional Women’s Committee of BWI for Latin America and the Caribbean.

For its part, the Bermuda Industrial Union (BIU), has launched a massive information campaign to promote preventive measures against COVID-19. In a national press conference held on March, BIU urged its affiliates and the general public to abide by the government’s health and safety measures. BIU expressed its readiness to negotiate with employers in the event of drastic measures imposed on long-term employment.

"This is our commitment to the workers of Bermuda; we will remain vigilant and always work to secure their jobs and incomes, even during a pandemic,” said George A. Scott, BIU Chief Union Organizer.