By Alexsis R. Milan
Consultations regarding the tabled Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Bill continued on Tuesday night in a meeting, which included members from the National Trade Union Congress of Belize (NTUCB) and the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). The forum took place at the ITVET campus on Freetown Road under the aegis of the Public Service, Labour, Industry and Trade Committee, which has been hearing concerns from relevant stakeholders.
Reneau made a presentation of the NTUCB’s perspective of the OSH Bill and explained that the union believes the Bill will cause more positive than negative effects.
Chamber members also voiced their concern and the BCCI maintains its position that the Bill as currently constructed will do more harm to the economy than good. One of the major points of contention that has come to the forefront in the OSH Bill dialogue is the issue of regulations.
Through the enactment of the OSH Bill a National Occupational Safety and Health Authority would be established and the unions propose that after the Bill is passed, there be a period of three years in which all the regulations governing each industry are drafted. Members from the BCCI as well as from the government’s side have expressed concern about this saying that the regulations must be drafted before the Bill is passed.
Kay Menzies, who up until Tuesday was the President of the BCCI, was present, as were members from the Chamber, NTUCB President Dylan Reneau, BNTU President Luke Palacio and other union members.
“We understand the unions’ position and we all agree that occupational safety and health is critically important. The issue is how to make it fair,” Menzies told The Reporter; “We need to know what we are signing on to,” she said.
Herman Longsworth, pro-tem Chairman of the Public Service, Labour, Industry and Trade Committee, told The Reporter that the committee has recorded all questions at the consultations and will provide answers as best asitcan. Longsworth explained that the next step in the process is to hold public consultations. Longsworth added that he intends to have the committee meet early next week to discuss the upcoming public consultations.