Calling it a “veiled attack” on the Office of the President, the government used its majority in the National Assembly on Thursday to quash a motion brought by the opposition People’s Progressive Party calling for the reestablishment of a Ministry of Labour.
The Motion piloted by Opposition MP Gillian Persaud is in keeping with calls by several labour unions for the Ministry of Labour to be set up to function as an independent Ministry instead of a department within the Ministry of Social Protection.
After a lengthy debate which only saw Government Chief Whip Amna Ally speaking on behalf of the government, 25 opposition MPs voted for the Motion while 33 government MPs voted against with the speaker declaring “the motion is lost.”
Six opposition MPs spoke on the motion and criticized the government not even allowing the Minister responsible for Labour, Keith Scott to speak on the issue.
Just after the 2015 elections the government renamed the Ministry of Labour and made labour a department in the new Ministry.
Ally in her remarks told the Assembly that “the motion constitutes a veiled attack on the Office of the President and we will not be part of any process designed to undermine the authority of the President.”
In her presentation, MP Gillian Persaud had encouraged the government to support the motion, saying the request is not extraordinary one.
She said after the 2015 election several other ministries were created but only labour was reduced to a department “at a time when the challenges faced by citizens in labour are numerous.”
“To deny this ministry is to deny and discriminate against the working class and employees of the state,” she added.
Despite the urgings of Persaud and her colleague MPs in the opposition benches, the motion was voted against.
The government argued that although the Ministry of Labour is now a department, there has been significant improvement over the last three years with decline in strikes and improvement in union employer relations.