Shop Act still to be amended
TRANSPORT, SECURITY and a raise in the minimum wage for shop assistants are among proposals still awaiting legislation.
Chief Labour Officer Vincent Burnett said his department, as well as the current wages council, was working to have these proposals made into law as they sought to amend the Shop Act.
“The minimum wage for shop assistants was last changed in December 2004. The wage council had made recommendations for a wage increase and that was sent to the minister but it so happened that recommendation went at a time when we were all experiencing the economic turmoil and nothing was done at that particular time.
“I am not sure when we will get out of this crisis but I personally feel that it is time that the minimum wage for shop assistants is increased,” he said.
Burnett, speaking during a panel discussion organized by the gender equity committee of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) in association with Union Network International on Sunday at Solidarity House, Harmony Hall, St Michael, said this had the attention of the present wages council but could not say when there would be any result.
The theme for the discussion was Safeguarding Vulnerable Workers: Empowerment Through Education.
“We have had extensive tripartite discussions over the past few years on a number of bits and pieces of legislation [such as] the Shops Act.
“We realize there have been some difficulties and therefore a part of the recommendations is an amendment to ensure the employer provides security for persons who work at night,” said Burnett.
He also mentioned a proposal for the interval between work shifts to be no less than 12 hours and for employers to provide transportation at night if work hours went beyond those of public transportation.
The other panellists were programme specialist with UN Women, Tonni Brodberand president of the National Organization of Women, Yvonne Walkes, who called for a worker help line.
“I think the state should work with organizations like the BWU to set up a crisis work help line so that persons can call and have access to help for any problem, especially workplace problems, and to seek out what their rights are and how to protect themselves,” she said.
Coordinator Wilma Clement said she was happy with the participation. (CA)