Jamaica News: Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the Sexual Harassment Bill, which seeks to protect women from violence, harassment and discriminatory practices in the workplace, is to be tabled in Parliament soon.
This, he said, is among measures being instituted by the Government to safeguard the nation’s workers, particularly the most vulnerable.
The Prime Minister was addressing the high-level meeting of the 108th Session of the International Labour Organization (ILO) Conference on Wednesday (June 12), in Geneva, Switzerland.
“We are working to address issues of gender discrimination and social protection for all workers, including domestic workers,” he told the forum.
Mr. Holness also informed that the Government ratified the Convention concerning Decent Work for Domestic Workers, which seeks to set employment standards and secure rights for domestic workers.
“The Government is paying keen attention to the quality of jobs and the conditions of work,” he said.
In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Bill was tabled and is now being examined by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.
“When the Bill is passed, it will establish a robust legal framework to protect and enhance the health and safety of the Jamaican worker in the workplace,” the Prime Minister said.
In the meantime, Mr. Holness reiterated the Government’s commitment to the Decent Work Agenda, and that it is continuing its work to empower citizens with education and training, to make them more marketable, employable and productive in a competitive labour market and economy.
“In fulfilment of our Decent Work Agenda, the Government has increased its effort and resources in making our citizens ‘workforce-ready’ through various special training modalities and apprenticeship initiatives,” he pointed out.
These, he said, include the Career Advancement Programme; the Housing, Opportunity, Production and Employment (HOPE) Programme; and the Jamaica National Service Corps.
“Tens of thousands of young Jamaicans are made work-ready, and tens of thousands more continue to be trained through the traditional modalities of our National Training Agency,” he said.
The Prime Minister pointed out that decent work must ultimately mean that the worker can create wealth and own assets from his or her effort, noting that to this end, the Government has removed employee income tax from more than 60 per cent of all workers in Jamaica.
“We have also sought to empower our workers by making special provisions for them to purchase shares in profitable public-sector enterprises which are being divested,” he said.
Mr. Holness further noted that mortgage interest rates have been significantly lowered, and minimum wage earners can access mortgages at zero per cent through the National Housing Trust. In addition, an intergenerational mortgage has been introduced to assist older workers in poor households to acquire housing solutions.
“We recognise that there is much more to be done for the Jamaican worker; however, much progress is being made within a cooperative and collaborative framework of social consensus building and respect for the human element as the centre of the social contract for development,” he said.
The Prime Minister, who presented on the topic ‘Advancing Social Justice, Promoting Decent Work’, is on a working visit to Switzerland.
The high-level meeting is the highlight of the Centenary Conference, which hosted more than 6,000 delegates from across the globe. The annual conference brings together governments, workers and employer delegates of the ILO member states. Jamaica has been a member of the ILO since 1962.
The event establishes and adopts international labour standards and is a forum for the discussion of key social and labour questions.
While in Switzerland, the Prime Minister will also hold bilateral meetings with the Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva, Roberto Azevedo as well as Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva, Michael Møller.
He will also meet with Jamaicans in the diaspora living in Switzerland.
The Prime Minister will return to the island on Thursday (June 13).
Source: JIS News