Portia among six former labour ministers honoured

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SIX former ministers of labour have been recognised by the Government for their contribution to the achievements and activities associated with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Trade Union Act, which were established 100 years ago.

They are former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, Dean Peart, Horace Dalley, Pearnel Charles, Derrick Kellier, and Dr Fenton Ferguson.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness presented them with plaques during the Ministry of Labour and Social Security’s awards banquet in Celebration of the centenary of the ILO and the Trade Union Act (1919), which was held at Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Wednesday.

Shahine Robinson, the labour and social security minister, congratulated the recipients on behalf of the Government.

“On this special occasion, we come to honour those who have given yeoman service to Jamaica through the ILO and our local organisations.

“Their efforts are representative of true community spirit… [They] have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure dignity, pride, and economic, political and social stability for our workers and our nation –— indeed, for making this world a better place than they found it,” Robinson said.

She noted that the debt and gratitude that Jamaica owes to the trade union movement and the ILO are incalculable.

“Jamaicans will, for generations to come, recognise that these two movements are vital instruments for economic change and development, and that they continue to make sterling contributions to our advancement,” she said.

Several trade unionists and employee advocates were also awarded. They are Senator Lambert Brown, Brenda Cuthbert, Helene Davis-Whyte, Raymond Eytle, George Fyffe, Senator Kavan Gayle, Vincent Morrison, Danny Roberts, Granville Valentine, Lloyd Goodleigh (posthumously), and Professor Neville Ying.

Former permanent secretaries Anthony Irons and Alvin McIntosh were also recognised; so too was former labour administrators Errol Miller, Karl Wedderburn; and Gresford Smith (posthumously).

The Trade Union Act was born out of the need to provide a legislative framework for industrial dispute resolution and statutory arbitration.

The Act, which was the first of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean, supports the principle of collective bargaining and provides legal recognition for the trade union movement.

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