Out with the old ways
It is ironic Errol McLeod, of all people, came from a union who led the struggle against the Industrial Stabilisation Act (ISA), which denied workers the right to strike and withhold their labour.
And today is using a law to deny workers the right to withhold their labour.
We were a colonial society and the ISA was one of those colonial laws that upheld the dehumanising conditions the former slaves and indentured labourers worked under.
McLeod’s action shows he has really lost his way.
He is in a position of authority to call in the parties and find out if safety issues do exist, and why it has deteriorated to the point that workers are forced to challenge the law?
What did management do to alleviate the bad conditions?
In an essential service, while the intention is that the employees should not withhold their labour, in the same breath management should do their utmost best to ensure the workers in those institutions are free from any undue problems and tensions.
The management style in essential services must be geared to problem-solving and being proactive, and the Ministry of Labour should be so structured to be monitoring industrial-relations issues in essential services so they wouldn’t reach these proportions.
Instead of resorting to the backward, repressive and rejected laws of the colonial masters, “Mac” should be using the opportunity as a past president-general of the Oilfields Workers’ Trade Union to transform the Ministry of Labour to be a meaningful and progressive institution, adding value to the contemporary industrial-relations process.