STATEMENT FOR THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY BY THE DEPUTY PREMIER AND MINISTER FOR NATURAL RESOURCES AND LABOUR, DR. THE HON. KEDRICK D. PICKERING ON THE LABOUR DISPUTE TRIBUNAL OCTOBER 14, 2013
Madam Speaker, for a few months now, we have been making every effort to put in place a Labour Dispute Tribunal as mandated by the Labour Code 2010. We have the commitment of a local attorney at law, who possesses the requisite experience and qualifications as delineated in the Labour Code 2010, to serve as the chairman. The Ministry, where the secretariat will reside, has been in continuous dialogue with the International Labour Organization (ILO) Sub-Regional Office based in Trinidad and Tobago to ensure that we get this up and running.
Madam Speaker, earlier this year the ILO Sub-Regional Officer communicated to us that they had arranged for the President of the Industrial Court in Trinidad and Tobago to visit the Territory and conduct training with the Ministry and Labour Department. This visit was scheduled for July, but was postponed due to circumstances which prevented the President from travelling. Since the Labour Dispute Tribunal is critical to the enhanced industrial relationship in the Territory between employers and employees we have decided to make arrangements to go to Trinidad and Tobago, while we wait on word as to when the president of the Industrial Court will be able to visit the Territory.
This proposed trip to Trinidad and Tobago is tentatively scheduled to take place in November of this year.
Madam Speaker, we have been at this for a long time, and we acknowledge that; however, it must be appreciated that to put the Labour Dispute Tribunal in place without proper guidance from the ILO is not wise. The decisions rendered by this body are final, and as a result, the importance of getting it set up and functioning correctly cannot be overstated. Therefore, we ask for your indulgence for just a little while longer as we work through the issues that have stymied our progress. At this time, Madam Speaker, we offer to this Honourable House and the people of this Territory our sincere apology as we had expected that the Labour Dispute Tribunal would have been by now operational. The expertise regarding case management and the like does not reside in the Labour Department nor does it reside in the Ministry. Hence, this is the reason why we turned to the ILO Sub-Regional Office for assistance. Madam Speaker, we assure you, the Members of this Honourable House and the people of this Territory, that we are committed to this process and eventually setting in place the Labour Dispute Tribunal.