Senator Massiah reports a litany of woes facing the Labour Department and ultimately affecting the Nation’s work force

Senator David Massiah has outlined a number of issues affecting the Department of Labour, noting that it is underfunded and has not been given the priority it deserves.

Massiah says the Gaston Browne Administration needs to do better, since the Labour Department is a vital component of the government service in terms of human-resource management.

Both employees and employers depend on the Department’s intervention in cases of industrial disputes, Senator Massiah says; hence, he is calling on Minister of Labour Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin to immediately address the shortcomings of this agency.

Since the January 18 General Election, there has been no appointment of a junior minister of labour, Massiah says.  He notes that former senator Maureen Payne Hyman has not been reappointed to the Upper House, and therefore cannot continue to hold the position.

With no one functioning in this position, a very critical part of the labour administration is being impacted, Senator Massiah says.

When issues at the various levels of the employment scale cannot be settled by the Labour Department, the junior minister would sit and adjudicate on these matters before the cases go before the Industrial Court, he explains.

However, with the extended portfolio of the minister of labour and his additional responsibilities, Senator Massiah says he “cannot have enough time” to deal with these matters.

What results is a situation which demonstrates that workers are not a priority, the United Progressive Party senator says.

Massiah also takes issue with the staff complement at the Labour Department, which he says is woefully low.  He says the unions and other practitioners are unable to get things done properly due to the shortage of personnel in the Department.

In his opinion, the workers also lack the training that is necessary to elevate them to higher positions in the organization.

In many instances, he says, persons who have been working in other departments, under the Job Programme, are placed in the Labour Department to answer phones or to carry mail.  However, they are then given other responsibilities that are beyond their scope.

Finally, Massiah says the Labour Inspection Unit needs to be properly manned.  This is the unit tasked with ensuring that government offices are safe; that workers are functioning in a healthy environment; and that other security measures, such as proper fire escapes, are in place.