St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Labour Department arm of government is being urged to be more aggressive in helping protect the rights of the country’s workers.

Prime Minister Timothy Harris has advised that the department needs to be proactive on that matter.

“We are strengthening our labour department to deal with challenges at the workplace.  For the record, we are not going to let any employers knock bout the workers and so we are saying the labour department needs to be more aggressive, needs to get more people out there, don’t wait until something happens to say that you are going to the Marriott, or Park Hyatt, or Oojj’s or Delta. You must go regularly and you must talk not just with management but with the workers themselves so you can get the full picture. That is why in the budget we have provided for five more labour officers to be attached to the labour department.”

The Prime Minister also suggested that regular visits to the worksite should be undertaken to ensure that foreign workers there are in good standing.

“Those who are working should have work permits to work, those who are working should have a social security number and the employer, that he or she is paying social security. Some of them like to take on foreign workers and then they don’t pay social security, then they hold them in fear because they work out if the employee goes there they will lose their job. They can’t do that to the locals but they want to try it with the non-nationals, we want a fair system giving justice to all workers at the workplace. We want an honest system.”

Speaking at Team Unity’s Town Hall meeting Tuesday (Feb 21), Prime Minister Harris also made reference to concerns being expressed by some clients of attorneys who are dissatisfied with the services they get from these lawyers.

Dr Harris linked that problem to good governance criticism which has been directed at his administration.

“When for example at the last town hall in Challengers, my good friend raised the issue of the lawyers, who when you give them a case they are not the good and you can’t find them when the case call and they don’t want to give you back your money. This is a question of good governance, how is it that the Bar Association has yet to come to the public with its approach to discipline  and self regulation, when poor people have been taken advantage of and yet they want to be the first to talk about good governance. They are not serious about good governance, good governance like charity must start in their home and in their association.”

According to the Prime Minister, the problem of lawyers not performing adequately on behalf of their clients appears to be a widespread one that’s being ignored by the Bar Association.

“You know how many people come and can’t get justice from the lawyers? They go through this and nothing out there to do something. That means the Bar Association is not fulfilling a critical mandate that can build public confidence in the professional services and the professional providers of legal service that we should have.”


Ken Richards
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