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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Will Occupational Safety and Health Bill be Introduced at Today's House Meeting?

After years of rallying for the implementation of a legislation to protect workers on the job site, the Unions say they have been informed that the bill-dubbed the Occupational Safety and Health Bill, will be tabled at tomorrow’s sitting of the House of Representatives. �For clarity on what the unions and other interested organizations have been negotiating for, here’s President of the Public Service Union, Marvin Blades.

vlcsnap-2014-01-20-17h46m54s0Mr. Marvin Blades- President of the Public Service Union

vlcsnap-2014-01-21-18h07m40s230“Occupation and Safety Health Bill is a bill that protects workers in one sense that, for example, every �time you go on the highways, or even if you look around these officers don’t have the gear that they need for the work that they do; for example these guys dealing with tar, but there is no protective gloves, nor protective suits; there is nothing and all these fumes go and affect these officers. �Later on in their careers they will definitely have certain health issues. �A lot of the times, accidents happen in the workplace that Social Security themselves have to be paying out because of accident prone on whatever location they are at, the provider, the employer is not putting these in place. �So, the OSH bill gives two to three years span in which yourself to get up to par. �so, it’s not like if it’s past tomorrow, you have this gear immediately. �It gives you a three years to phase-in this program and it will help all these workers, honestly”.

The PSU anticipates that the bill will not only benefit workers in the public sector, but in private companies as well, and will serve as a type of vindication for employees.

Mr. Ray Davis- Industrial Relations Officer of the PSU

vlcsnap-2014-01-21-18h09m16s158Mr. Ray Davis:“In addition to that, it is also going to be, in my view,a vindication for some of the companies that we have right now that are even now without legislation complying with a lot of the safety standard that is recognized as where. �So, it is a way of getting other employers in the same page in terms of the protection of the main asset that they have which is the workforce. So, the plan is important, but your primary asset is your workers. �So, the focus of the OSH Bill is to make sure that there s safety and health issues taken care of at that level”. ��

As we said, the Unions, as well as other organizations who have played a key role in sketching the bill, expect it to be brought before the House for a first reading tomorrow. And they are hoping that the content of the would-be piece of legislation, corresponds with what they have been asking for.

vlcsnap-2014-01-21-18h30m56s244Mr. Ray Davis: �“It is a Bill that has been worked on for quite a few years by quiet a few persons who have been at the forefront of working this Bill and I can tell you even now, many of those persons are concerned with regards how does this final Bill that is going to be presented looks? �Is there significant differences between they have over the years toiled over and agreed on because it was a lot of agreements and arguments between the three legs involved which is the government, the business sector and the Union sector? � We have the Social Security Board that has been sort of recent time, the main �force that is pushing to have this Bill passed through. �So, we have been having quite a bit of buying for all the sectors involved for this Bill”.


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Marty Offline OP
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Occupational Safety Bill Goes To House, PM Urges Deliberate Patience

We’ve told you a lot about today’s house meeting so far in the news - but you haven’t heard a whole lot about the legislative business of the meeting.� And that’s because of the eight pieces of legislation, 6 of them were all about meeting US standards for transparency in the banking system to discourage terrorism and money laundering.

But one of them was just for the unions. �The occupational safety and health bill of 2014 was introduced after the unions staged a disruptive walkout form last month’s house sitting.

So, it was introduced today - by a very wary Prime Minister:

Prime Minister Dean Barrow - Prime Minister of Belize
"This bill, when - or perhaps - if it is made law is going to come at a huge financial cost. It's not an unmixed blessing. I want to be very careful in what I say. It is laudable; it is perhaps timed and over time that this quantum leap forward, but nobody must be under any illusions. There will be a tremendous burden and financial cost, not only to Government - Government as well, but to the private sector, and to small individuals employers, even who have 1-person operations, to become compliant will cost a great deal of money."

Dylan Reneau - President, NTUCB
"The prime minister also said that we have to tone down our expectations. I dream high; I imagined all of these possibilities for years and certainly I will not be deterred by his statements and comments. We have to push this thing forward; it is very critical for our development. Workers and the issues that impact workers also impact this country. And if we can get some resolution to that then there will be development - human development - that is important for the development of a state. Not just to see big buildings and all of that, you want to see people having the type of livelihood that they can enjoy life."����

But the Unions weren’t enjoying the meeting when they got there.� At the orders of the speaker, who routinely suspends observers who have been disruptive in the gallery, they weren’t allowed in - which prompted the BNTU Belize District Branch President to stage a one woman sit-out - she explained:..

Kathleen E. B. Flowers - President, BNTU Belize City Branch
"When we came here, we were not allowed to go in. We were clearly being told that we were banned for the next 2 sitting. I also wanted to call attention to that so that when I am sitting out here alone, people would question what that is about, and then, I could call the nation's attention to banning the NTUCB� from the House, and we have not done anything so to speak."

Jules Vasquez
"But you all were disruptive at the last meeting."

Kathleen E. B. Flowers
"That's understood, and we didn’t get our chance to get first warning, second warning, third warning; people usually get their warnings. It is not immediate eviction. We took our immediate eviction humbly and we left and so we returned today to exercise our constitutional right and we were banned and so I decided that I will do a one-woman protest and I sat out here while the rest of my affiliates went up after we had to beg for us to get inside."

Dylan Reneau - President, NTUCB
"We saw a minister come out, and we asked Minister Boots Martinez why we're not being allowed. He said that he was not aware; Mr. Elrington as well. He went back into the House and spoke to the Speaker who appeared to have had a change of heart, and allowed us to enter the gallery. As proven, we were not rude people."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you all feel sufficiently respect now that the unions have been listened to?"

Dylan Reneau
"Yes, certainly, the bill as we know it has been introduced, and as the Prime Minister said, it will go through a public debate, and� we are glad for that as well because now everybody, all workers in this country, have a right to have their say in what goes into this bill. And so we are asking them to come out and be at the forefront for the passage of this bill. This bill is good for both workers and employers."

As the union president mentioned, there will be extensive national consultation on the Health Safety bill as it calls for sweeping safety measures to all facets of work safety, from farm work to the media.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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OSH Bill consultations continue

The Occupational Safety and Health Bill has caused disquiet for employers who believe its measures are too punitive and do harm to all businesses and employees.

But consultations as part of the process to make it law continue, and today members of the Belize National Teachers' Union (BNTU) listened to a presentation from a member of the committee that drafted the bill, engineer Philip Waight.

Waight told us that the bill contains important commitments for both employers and employees.

He says employers have a responsibility to ensure that working conditions for their employees are safe and healthy, where it is needed those employees should take a hand in addressing issues themselves or bringing them to the attention of management.

For teachers, he cited as examples exposed electrical connections and even the arrangement of often crowded classrooms that may cause slip and falls.

He also disdained the view of the Chamber of Commerce that the bill punishes businesses, saying that they leave themselves open to accusations of being anti-labour.

BNTU President Luke Palacio reaffirmed his union's support for the Bill, saying it is good for employees and needs to be thoroughly debated and understood before it becomes law.

The next meeting of the House Committee that is hearing comments on the Bill takes place in Belize City next Tuesday, April 29, at 6:00 p.m. at the ITVET Compound.

The unions are the focus of the consultations this time around, as the Committee goes nationwide before final amendment and review of the Bill later this year.

Patrick Jones

Joined: Jun 2012
Posts: 391
There is already a law that covers this in Belize. If you lose a limb on the job the employer is required to help you look for it...

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