Tue | Dec 7, 2021

Case backlog hobbles IDT

Published:Thursday | March 5, 2020 | 12:13 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

Labour rows are clogging operations of the Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) and affecting its ability to properly discharge its duties in a timely and efficient manner, Labour and Social Security Minister Shahine Robinson has said.

Robinson, who was speaking at the recent opening of the IDT’s western divisional office in Montego Bay, said that while there was a 28 per cent reduction in the number of individual disputes reported to the Ministry of Labour and Social Security in 2019, there was still an overwhelming backlog.

“We must admit that there has been a backlog of cases requiring arbitration. We have also recognised that the caseload coming to our labour offices in western Jamaica accounts for approximately one-third of the overall caseload on the island,” said Robinson.

The IDT’s western division office, which is located at the Blue Diamond Shopping Plaza in Ironshore, Montego Bay, arbitrates matters in the parishes of St James, Hanover, Trelawny, and Westmoreland.

“This is what has fuelled this ministry’s decision to establish the Industrial Dispute Tribunal West,” said Robinson, noting that the number of cases heard in conciliation for the 2019 calendar year was 414. Of that number, 152 were sourced in western Jamaica.

Based on information gleaned from other sources, the number of dispute resolution cases that go before the IDT and are heard in conciliation are much higher than the 414 cases reported by Robinson. Other cases related to the Maternity Leave Act, Holidays with Pay Act, redundancy computation, and Minimum Wage Act, including labour law complaints from workers, who reached out to the ministry by walking in, by telephone, and writing letters, are also in the mix.

The IDT was established on April 8, 1975. The ministry is also celebrating the centenary of Jamaica’s first labour law, the Trade Union Act.