Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 21, 2016 (SKNIS): The Department of Labour is a very important agency of government which ensures that employees and employers rights are protected and work environments are safe and healthy.

Speaking on “Working for You” on Wednesday, October 19. Shernel James, Acting Labour Commissioner, said that the work of the Labour Department is enshrined in what is called the Labour Administration.

“Labour administration is basically the public activities in regards to labour, labour legislation and labour policy. And it is carried out through a system whereby it is a Department of Labour,” said Ms. James. “We also work in collaboration with our social partners, the employer’s representative and the worker’s representative.”

Ms. James gave a brief history of the Department, noting that it came out of the bowels of an unrest.

“During the 1930’s there were a number of social and economic unrests within the Caribbean,” she said, while referring to the 1935 Buckley’s Riot in St. Kitts and Nevis. “Based upon all of the unrests that were going on throughout the Caribbean, the British Colonial Government sent out a team led by Lord Moyne who then proceeded to investigate [ the unrests] starting with Jamaica in the north to Trinidad in the south.”

The Acting Labour Commissioner said that based upon Lord Moyne’s findings he [Lord Moyene] presented a report dubbed the Moyne Report. Out of that report came the establishment of a number of social and economic issues.

“But one of the important recommendations was the establishment of the Labour Commissioner in the 1940’s here in St. Kitts and Nevis, in which we saw the Labour Commissioner Ordinance and then the Factory Ordinance, which is now the [St. Kitts and Nevis] Factories Act,” said Acting Labour Commissioner James,” while adding that on June 18, 1966, the government of the day passed the Labour Ordinance, which replaced the Labour Commissioner Act. “From then, we had the establishment of the Department of Labour and the appointment of a Labour Commissioner whose job is to ensure that workers’ rights are protected.

In describing her role as Acting Labour Commissioner, Ms. James noted that it is her right to ensure that every complaint coming into the department is settled. She noted that the Department continues to do all in its power to ensure that decent work prevails, decent work in the sense that workers are given all that is necessary to ensure that he or she receives the maximum benefits derived to him or her from doing an honest day’s work.