There has been an increase in the number of complaints reported to the Department of Labour & Workforce Development since the advent of COVID-19 in the British Virgin Islands.
Labour Commissioner Janice Rymer gave that indication during a live public broadcast with senior members of the Ministry of Labour & Immigration Sunday night, September 13.
“We’re dealing with numerous disputes that have been lodged since the hurricanes, actually. [But] we’ve had a number of disputes that have come in and even more so now during COVID-19,” Rymer said.
The Labour Commissioner said the department’s Labour Relations Unit — more commonly known as the Disputes Unit — is addressing the disputes remotely.
She said the are handled via telephone and Zoom calls as a COVID-19 safety precaution. She did not detail the nature of these disputes.
Arbitration Tribunal relaunched after years of poor performance
News of these increased labour-related disputes come as the department relaunched its Labour Arbitration Tribunal.
“It’s not been the best for the last couple of years but we hope to see a great improvement going forward,” Labour Minister Vincent Wheatley said while describing the Tribunal as “an integral part” of the department.
The establishment of an Arbitration Tribunal is a requirement under Section 29 of the territory’s 2010 Labour Code.
Its responsibility under the legislation is “to settle any dispute or complaint transmitted to it by the minister”.
The law says: “The Tribunal shall comprise a chairperson and two other members. The Chairperson shall be an attorney-at-law of at least 10 years’ standing and shall be appointed by the minister in consultation with Cabinet for a period of two years”.
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