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Union Educates Skilled Workers During Readiness Session

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By: Precious Mills

BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Wednesday 27th March 2024)-The St.Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union (SKNT&LU) on Wednesday 27th March 2024 conducted a session on ‘The Importance and Benefits of Unionised Bodies Within The Skilled Industry’ as part of the Work Readiness Workshop put on by the Advanced Vocational Education Centre (AVEC) at its campus located at Taylor’s Range in Basseterre, St.Kitts.

The workshop was held under the theme ‘Strengthening TVET, Charting Sustainable Changes and Anchoring Positive Transformation in Industries for the Next Generation.’

SKNT&LU First Vice President Curtis Francis, the union’s representative on the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council was a presenter.

Director at AVEC Eston Williams informed that the age range of the second year trainees are 16 and over, noting that some of them are 40. Notably, the over fifty (50) trainees would receive a diploma following their two-year hands-on training.

“As a technical vocational institution, part of our training is to sensitize the trainees on work experience and work preparedness. So, the trainees that we have here today are second year trainees. They should be completing their training program at the end of June,” Williams stated.

He continued: “We would annually have what is called work preparedness, where the trainees will go out in the workforce and they would experience what it is to work out there using the skills that they would have gained within the institution itself, getting an opportunity to showcase their work, work habits, they would get the opportunity to build network, they would get the opportunity to even win over the employers out there for whom they would have been working for.”

Williams commented further: “Additionally, they get the opportunity to be a part of the workforce and they are able to know what it is like to be a part of the workforce. So they are able to earn an income and to prepare themselves fully for the work environment itself.”

The collective program areas for the trainees are: Commercial Food Preparation, Electrical and Electronics, Data Operation, Office Administration, AC and refrigeration, General Cosmetology, General Construction, Welding and Fabrication and Automotive Repairs.

“However, those are the mainstream courses that we have but from time to time, we will run short courses that will be maximum three months and those courses are run based on the needs. So for this set, the training and the certification, the trainees would receive a diploma at the end of their two years training,” the AVEC Director noted.

According to Williams: “Our intention is to have the Labour Department come in throughout the year at any given time to sensitise the trainees about their benefits, and the use of unions and their rights as labourers.”

Meanwhile, the union’s representative Francis, during his presentation spoke about the importance of being unionised, encouraged the trainees to join the 1940-founded organization (formerly called the Workers League- established in 1932).

He also touched on the essence of togetherness of workers at a workplace in addressing working conditions and other related areas by approaching management through a Collective Bargaining Agreement which generally requires 50 per cent plus 1 of the workforce at any company.

Francis outlined that workers becoming unionised members individually is quite beneficial as it relates to having representation in the workplace and overall in the labour market.

SKNT&LU First Vice President Curtis Francis, the union’s representative on the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council seen while making remarks on the topic of ‘The Importance and Benefits of Unionised Bodies Within The Skilled Industry’ (Spokesman Snap)

He also pointed out that information about workers’ rights and protection are important for business owners to know and understand fully.

Francis highlighted the SKNTLU’s six (6) reasons why a worker needs a union, namely:

1. STRENGTH THROUGH UNITY-It is easier to gain concessions from management by collective bargaining through a Union than by arguing for your rights as a single person.

2. REPRESENTATION AT WORK-The Union provides representation for a worker in any dispute with management, and the worker is less at a disadvantage.

3. PROTECTION FROM EXPLOITATION-The role of the Union is to protect the workers from exploitation by management, with respect to wages, working hours, illness and injury, discrimination and victimisation and in any other area.

4. HEALTH AND SAFETY-The Union fights for a better working environment for the worker, e.g. improved sanitation, good ventilation, better catering facilities etc. The Union seeks to ensure that Occupational Health and Safety standards as laid down by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) are met at factories and other workplaces.

5. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT-The Union provides opportunities for individual development of workers: (a) Through involvement in the organisational structure of the Union itself. (b)Through the provision of lectures, seminars and other educational courses for its members.

6. LEGAL SERVICES-The Union provides legal assistance to members involved in litigation related to work situations for either pro bono or at a much lower cost than would normally be obtained by the worker.

Other SKNT&LU representatives who attended the session were President Sydney Bridgewater, General Secretary Precious Mills and Field Officer Sean Kelly.

The three other topics covered by other presenters that day were: ‘Teamwork: Having The Right Attitude For Success In The Workplace’, ‘Finance And Investment: Building Wealth And Taking Care Of Your Health’ and ‘What Leadership Is Necessary For The Future.’

Workers of St.Kitts and Nevis can become union members by payment of $10.00 registration (Entrance Fee) and $5.00 weekly subscription at an average of $20-$25 monthly.

Of note: The SKNT&LU functions as the Workers Representative on a number of national bodies and committees-namely- The National Tripartite Committee, Minimum Wage Advisory Committee, Social Security Board Solid Waste Management Board and the TVET Council.

Please Like and Follow the union’s official Facebook page (St.Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union).

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