In an academic paper at C'bean labour conference...
Gopaul questions merit of agreements under duress
by Mark Ramotar
Guyana Chronicle
September 12, 2003

Related Links: Articles on the Caribbean
Letters Menu Archival Menu

PERMANENT Secretary in the Public Service Ministry, Dr. Nanda Gopaul, in an academic paper presented yesterday to the Caribbean Labour Administration Conference, questioned whether agreements arrived at under duress bring the desirable outcome and are in the interest of the state and other sectors of the economy.

Dr. Gopaul also emphasized that collective bargaining in the public service can never be the same as collective bargaining in manufacturing businesses or in commerce.

According to him, Unions have sought in the past to force governments into submitting to their demands by virtue of industrial action. This, he said, has become more prevalent and fashionable in the public service and has resulted in serious economic and social dislocations within individual nation-states.

And it is in this context that he questioned whether agreements arrived at under duress bring the desirable outcome and can be in the interest of the state and other sectors of the economy.

He noted that in this era of globalization, reforms and modernization of public service, given the limited resources available to developing countries in particular, the aspect of having the luxury of a free collective bargaining process can pose serious economic problems to these states.

"It is against this background that I will want to argue that while collective bargaining with respect to grievances must be taken to its fullest extent, the negotiations of wages and salaries must have some avenue for checks and balances while at the same time full exposure of information must take place between the parties," Gopaul posited.

"Perhaps with a view to reducing tensions and conflict which ever so often occurs in collective bargaining within the public service, more emphasis could be placed on the creation of national social partnership agreements similar to those existing in Ireland and Barbados," Dr. Gopaul said.

According to him, the success story of these agreements and the socio-economic improvements that these have brought to these countries are therefore a fitting legacy for other countries to emulate.

In his paper 'Employment and Collective Bargaining in the Civil Service - A Caribbean Perspective', Dr. Gopaul, indicated that public employees are protected under several mechanisms which exist in furtherance of employment and job security as well as on trade union representation.

He pointed out that ILO Conventions 87 and 151 allow for public service employees to be accorded representational rights and freedom to organize. Article 4 of Convention 151 indicates that public employees shall enjoy adequate protection against acts of anti-union discrimination in their employment and that such protection should guarantee that employees are not subjected to conditions that, "they shall not join or shall relinquish membership of a public employee's organization".

The Caribbean Labour Administration Conference opened Tuesday at Le Meridien Pegasus Hotel here amid calls for the modernization and increased capacity of labour ministries and tripartite collaboration the region in the face of the new challenges posed by globalization.

The four-day conference concludes today.

Site Meter