By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Thursday 17th May 2018)-This week, members of the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union met with a well-respect attorney-at-law contracted by the International Labour Organisation and government in the person of Sir Clare K. Roberts QC of Antigua, founding Partner and Notary Public of Roberts & Company, during his business trip to the Federation surrounding discussions about putting together a labour code document.
The meeting was held yesterday (Wednesday) at the Union’s headquarters at Masses House located on Church Street in Basseterre.
Shortly following that meeting, this reporter spoke with Sir Clare in gathering some details about the mission of his visit as well and his conversation with Union officials namely President Joseph O’Flaherty Jr., First Vice President Sydney Bridgewater, General Secretary Batumba Tak and legal counsel Fitzroy Eddy.
“I am on a contract with the ILO [International Labour Organisation] and the St.Kitts-Nevis government to consolidate the labour laws of St.Kitts and Nevis as the first steps to bringing about a labour code,” he told.
“A Labour code is where we codify all the legislations dealing with labour for access so that the worker or the employer can go to the labour code and find whatever aspect of labour law he/she wants. So it’s to create a sort of a Labour bible …and that’s very important because right now I’ve been given sixteen (16) pieces of legislations; various legislations containing the labour laws here in St.Kitts and Nevis,” Sir Clare further explained.
He pointed to challenging instances whereby if someone wanted to find out an aspect of labour law “you’ll have to know where it is and that’s very difficult.”
Sir Clare went on to note that with one piece of legislation with a consolidated labour code, you’ll find that there are headings in chapters to access what one is dealing with.
In regard to the meeting with the Union officials, he gave this feedback about that afternoon’s session saying: “I had very good discussions with the Trade Union just now. They had forty ( 40) items that they wanted us to look at to ensure that these items of policy form part of the legislation. This will be done in two parts. The first part is to consolidate, modernising the consolidation and avoiding conflicts and so on.”
Sir Clare continued: “Then with that consolidated law, we would then go about reforming the legislation. So there are different aspects of reform that the Union produced and we discussed that and I’ve made a note of. Some will go into the consolidated legislation but some will be in the second phase whilst adding and “and we want to do this quickly to keep the momentum to produce this consolidated legislation by the 13th of August.”
Additionally, he shared that he has gathered relative to the Federation, “the Tripartite Commission has been dealing with this for some nine years and I think it is time that it is done.”
Today (Thursday), Sir Clare is scheduled to meet with employers, members of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce and also government officials who make up Tripartite while tomorrow (Friday), he is expected to meet with the Tripartite Commission “dealing with all of my discussions.”
Commenting on what is to follow after his meetings, he replied: “I have to produce within a week a draft for each of the bodies to look at.”
As understood, he will engage in comments and discussions with such parties with a view towards “having a second draft then returning to St.Kitts-Nevis to have the document looked over by the 13th August which will be the final day of consolidating the labour laws of St.Kitts and Nevis.”
Sir Clare anticipates that he will be back in the Federation sometime next month (June) since by then he would have produced a draft and had the necessary comments and discussions.
Immediate right (clockwise) Attorney-at-law contracted by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Sir Clare K. Roberts QC of Antigua during a meeting with St.Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union officials- legal counsel Fitzroy Eddy; First Vice President Sydney Bridgewater; General Secretary Batumba Tak and President Joseph O’Flaherty Jr. (Spokesman Snap)