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Feb 15, 2017

Reviving the Bodies of Labour

Today, the Ministry of Labour held an inauguration ceremony to reactivate the labour advisory board, tri-partite body and the national child labour committee – made up of members from government agencies, the Belize chamber of commerce and the unions. These committees were formed a couple years back but they never quite functioned as they were envisioned. The primary purpose of these committees will be to make recommendations to the Ministry as it relates to issues with local labour laws. We spoke with Minister of Labour Hugo Patt who explained why it is necessary to get these committees going:

 

Hugo Patt

Hugo Patt, Minister, Labour, Local Government & Rural Development

“The supporting hub of the Ministry where anything relating to issues starting from the rights of a child; protecting a child; making sure that our children are not working under hazardous environment to issues affecting trade unions and to the core of what is affecting us in terms of labour laws; in terms of labour issues and in terms of making our policies consistent with our international commitments. These are the supporting bodies that would actually make recommendations to the Ministry and eventually leading into Cabinet and if necessary going in to the House for the necessary amendments in terms of making our laws as much as possible plausible and as much as possible reflecting the real time environments we have today.  The bodies were started, if I am not mistaken, back in 2012. And so, for the period of 2012-2016 we really had not much input and upon getting the responsibility of labour, we decided to make sure that the bodies are up and functional so that the actual work of the Ministry becomes more productive and more efficient for the needs we have in country.  There are a number of issues ranging from the mere fact; let’s take for instance the issue of child labour.We have the issues of the Belize Sugar Cane Farmers Association and they are in compliance it relates to having a child working in the cane fields and so while it might seem like a cultural practice , our international commitments are one we have to honor and so defending the thin line of cultural practices and our international obligations is one that we have to deal with a national child labour committee. And when it comes to laws that we have in particular I want to make mention of the tourism industry, which is a booming industry, and really the laws we have in place are not reflective of the environment that we have in tourism. So, whenever we are speaking about for instance a normal day of eight working hours; you have people going to the islands, the resorts,; practically working for three or four weeks then getting two weeks off to make it plausible for them to come back to work effectively and efficiently and economically for them to come back to their families – so these kind of changes, we have to make sure that we have the laws in place to bring them up to date And really the laws are sort of antiquated and we have to make sure that our laws are reflective of the environment that we have today.”

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