Unions want MoBay Bypass Order applied to other projects

President of the Union of Clerical, Administrative and Supervisory Employees (UCASE) Vincent Morrison wants the rules of engagement suggested for workers on the proposed Montego Bay Perimeter Road Project extended to other China Harbour Engineering Company Ltd (CHEC) construction sites.

Morrison said that while he welcomes the proposals in the Public Procurement (National Development Project) (Montego Bay Perimeter Road Project) Order requiring that CHEC pays the same rates as those paid by local contractors under the Joint Industrial Council (JIC) for the building and construction industry, they should not be limited to the Montego Bay project.

He says that he agrees with the position taken by the Minister of Finance and the Public Service Dr Nigel Clarke that CHEC must observe the JIC rates, which are standard for the industry in Jamaica. He also believes that they should be extended to other construction projects, including the tolled east-west highway from May Pen, Clarendon, to Williamsfield, Manchester.

President of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) Senator Kavan Gayle is also in favour of the proposals in the ministerial order which require that CHEC pay the workers involved with the MoBay project wages similar to those paid to those employed by local contractors under the JIC.

“This order, which compels CHEC to observe the JIC agreements, which set the standards for Jamaicans working in the local building and construction industry, will require CHEC, as well as its subcontractors, to observe the conditions,” Senator Gayle said.

He said the order will ensure that both skilled and unskilled workers in the sector benefit from the basic minimum standards, in terms of wages and other conditions of their employment, which will now be entrenched in the new framework agreement.

Morrison, meanwhile, said the position taken by the minister, in terms of the application of the JIC rules, is the right thing to do, claiming that CHEC has been evasive in dealing with claims for bargaining rights or payment of the JIC rates.

Last week, in a release concerning developments on the May Pen to Williamsfield project, the BITU and UCASE confirmed serving a joint claim for bargaining rights on the management of CHEC on behalf of the workers engaged on that construction project.

The unions informed CHEC that they were seeking cooperation in recognising them under the Labour Relations and Industrial Dispute Act (LRIDA) of 1975, either by consent or allow the Ministry of Labour and Social Security to conduct a poll among the workers.

Since the commencement of the project the workers have staged several demonstrations complaining that their terms and conditions are less favourable than what they received when the first leg of Highway 2000 was constructed, under the management of the French contractor, Bouygues, more than a decade ago.

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