Labour ministry launches COVID-19 Labour Market Task Force

Minister with responsibility for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Karl Samuda, addresses the media at the Ministry's annual Back-to-School Press Conference, held at the Ministry, National Heroes Circle, on Thursday (August 29). (Photo: JIS)

Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda has assembled a team of experts to address issues affecting the labour market in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The group, called the COVID-19 Labour Market Task Force, had it first meeting on Monday. Addressing the members of the task force, Samuda outlined the scope of work and said he expects to receive the first report by the end of February next year.

It will examine the Labour Market implications; legislative and policy, provide legislative and or policy recommendations to the Labour Advisory Council (LAC) chaired by the minister and provide recommendations to address the immediate impact of COVID-19 pandemic, the labour ministry said in a statement.

Chairman of the task force, Professor Neville Ying, expressed that the group must contextualise its objectives in light of the impact of COVID-19 globally and on Jamaica, including critical areas such as business closures and job losses.

He told members of the task force that thousands of job positions have been made redundant since the arrival of COVID-19 and that Jamaica’s economy is projected to decline by 11 per cent even as the flow of remittances remains steady.

In outlining the framework for the work to be done, Professor Ying said, the tenets of the International Labour Organization (ILO), must guide its deliberations. It must be evidence and rules-based and maximise the power and value of social dialogue. The ILO tools of Core Labour Standards, Decent Work Agenda and Conventions and Recommendations will also be utilised as important points of reference.

The professor gave the clearest indication that the approach of the task force will be a global one. It will also focus on job creation and employment, synchronised financing by international development institutions for developing countries and major strategies for job creation and employment viz-a-viz infrastructure development such as urgent attention to our damaged network of roads, resulting from the recent effects of the outer bands of hurricanes, digital infrastructure for Internet access in all communities rural and urban across Jamaica.

The ministry said the task force will highlight the importance of the ‘future work place’ that will be technology driven, with primarily digital and home-based work. This will require urgent changes in the roles of tripartite members i.e. employer, trade unions and Government.  The future workplace will also require key competencies for employees and employers and a new concept and practice of life-long learning. The task force is a sub-set of the Labour Advisory Council (LAC). It comprises of:

  • Professor Neville Ying  (Chairman)
  • Granville Valentine (NWU)
  • Clifton Grant (UAWU)
  • David Wan (JEF)
  • Cheryl Price (JEF)
  • Wayne Chen (Caribbean Employers Federation)
  • Deidra Coy (Planning Institute of Jamaica)
  •  Donavon Wignall (MSME) and Donna Evelyn (Jamaica Council of Churches)
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