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Government appoints first female Labour Commissioner

Advocacy for a Permanent Arbitration Tribunal is chief among the focus of Grenada’s new Labour Commissioner, who cited the need for such a resolution mechanism.

Valerie Thomas, the first female to the post, told The Grenadian Voice that having worked in the field of labour relations for the past eight years in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago, she noticed that an entity to help employers and employees get redress, was a missing but necessary component in Grenada. She pointed to situations where complaints are brought to the Ministry of Labour but “they go nowhere else except parties agree to refer them to an arbitration tribunal.”

“When I saw what there is in Trinidad, I noticed that we had nothing like that in Grenada and if we do get the chance to put a similar mechanism into place Grenada would have been better off today where we can have our aspirations realized.”

Among its proposals to reform the public sector in its manifesto prior to the June 23 general election, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) proposed a “mediation meeting that will be required within 30 days of a grievance being reported to the Office of the Labour Commission by an employee, employer or trade union.”

In addition, the party proposed to “establish a Permanent Arbitration Tribunal staffed by one labour

employee representative, one business community representative and one experienced lawyer, who will review all disputes which are not resolved within the 30-day period, and the Permanent Arbitration Tribunal will make a decision with respect to the grievance.”

Thomas, who hails from Grand Bras in St Andrew, cites taking up the post as “something that needs to be done” and is “happy to give back to my country,” to help revamp and strengthen the labour administration systems.

Having taken up the appointment from Nov 03, Thomas said she is currently assessing the department, and promises some form of restructuring in the coming months.

Noting that industrial relations is deemed to be a man’s world, the new Commissioner however doesn’t foresee a challenge linked to her gender. 

Thomas was welcomed to the post by public relations officer of the Public Workers Union (PWU), Daisy Hazzard.

Noting that she’s taking up the post when there’s “quite a bit of upheaval and outstanding matters” of the PWU, Hazard on a local televised programme said Thomas “is well suited to the position, we believe it’s a good pick and we believe she will bring a range of expertise and knowledge to the position.”

The Ministry of Legal Affairs, Labour and Consumer Affairs in announcing the appointment via press release noted that Thomas brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position.

She’s a graduate of the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies and specialised in Labour Studies with an emphasis in Negotiations, Labour Administration, Labour Dispute Management and Tripartite Dialogue. Her professional career includes employment with one of the largest trade unions in Trinidad and Tobago and “highlights a sterling record of success before the Industrial Courts.”

Prior to moving to T&T, Thomas worked for over 17 years in the fields of General Administration and Human Resource Development in the Grenada’s public service.

According to the release, as Labour Commissioner, Thomas will drive the Ministry’s transformative labour agenda and give dedicated focus to:

● Finalising the Review of the Labour Code

● Strengthening Case Management

● Advancing the Occupational Safety and Health Agenda

● Building the Decent Work and Disability in the Workplace Regulatory Regime

● Strengthening Dispute Resolution to ensure justice and improve compliance

● Enhancing Workplace Productivity Minister for Labour

In addition, her mandate will be to address outstanding labour dispute matters, engage key labour partners and advance the priorities of the labour sector.

In welcoming Thomas, Senator Hon Claudette Joseph, said she “brings a rich mix of labour administration and industrial relations experience and expertise to the position. We are confident that she will execute her duties to the highest standard, and we look forward to her contributions in advancing the Department of Labour and its work programme, and the wider transformative agenda of Government.”

Over the last three months, the transitioning of the Labour Department was taken up by Reginald Lord who acted in the position. Last week, the Ministry held a ceremony to celebrate his retirement after serving over 32 years as a Labour Officer. He was described by his colleagues as one who displayed the highest level of professionalism, dedication, passion and inspiration.

Cyrus Griffith served as Labour Commissioner for the past 25 years, including four years into his retirement until August of this year.

Photo Caption:

Government appoints first female Labour Commissioner

Advocacy for a Permanent Arbitration Tribunal is chief among the focus of Grenada’s new Labour Commissioner, who cited the need for such a resolution mechanism.

Valerie Thomas, the first female to the post, told The Grenadian Voice that having worked in the field of labour relations for the past eight years in neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago, she noticed that an entity to help employers and employees get redress, was a missing but necessary component in Grenada. She pointed to situations where complaints are brought to the Ministry of Labour but “they go nowhere else except parties agree to refer them to an arbitration tribunal.”

“When I saw what there is in Trinidad, I noticed that we had nothing like that in Grenada and if we do get the chance to put a similar mechanism into place Grenada would have been better off today where we can have our aspirations realized.”

Among its proposals to reform the public sector in its manifesto prior to the June 23 general election, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) proposed a “mediation meeting that will be required within 30 days of a grievance being reported to the Office of the Labour Commission by an employee, employer or trade union.”

In addition, the party proposed to “establish a Permanent Arbitration Tribunal staffed by one labour

employee representative, one business community representative and one experienced lawyer, who will review all disputes which are not resolved within the 30-day period, and the Permanent Arbitration Tribunal will make a decision with respect to the grievance.”

Thomas, who hails from Grand Bras in St Andrew, cites taking up the post as “something that needs to be done” and is “happy to give back to my country,” to help revamp and strengthen the labour administration systems.

Having taken up the appointment from Nov 03, Thomas said she is currently assessing the department, and promises some form of restructuring in the coming months.

Noting that industrial relations is deemed to be a man’s world, the new Commissioner however doesn’t foresee a challenge linked to her gender. 

Thomas was welcomed to the post by public relations officer of the Public Workers Union (PWU), Daisy Hazzard.

Noting that she’s taking up the post when there’s “quite a bit of upheaval and outstanding matters” of the PWU, Hazard on a local televised programme said Thomas “is well suited to the position, we believe it’s a good pick and we believe she will bring a range of expertise and knowledge to the position.”

The Ministry of Legal Affairs, Labour and Consumer Affairs in announcing the appointment via press release noted that Thomas brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position.

She’s a graduate of the Cipriani College of Labour and Cooperative Studies and specialised in Labour Studies with an emphasis in Negotiations, Labour Administration, Labour Dispute Management and Tripartite Dialogue. Her professional career includes employment with one of the largest trade unions in Trinidad and Tobago and “highlights a sterling record of success before the Industrial Courts.”

Prior to moving to T&T, Thomas worked for over 17 years in the fields of General Administration and Human Resource Development in the Grenada’s public service.

According to the release, as Labour Commissioner, Thomas will drive the Ministry’s transformative labour agenda and give dedicated focus to:

● Finalising the Review of the Labour Code

● Strengthening Case Management

● Advancing the Occupational Safety and Health Agenda

● Building the Decent Work and Disability in the Workplace Regulatory Regime

● Strengthening Dispute Resolution to ensure justice and improve compliance

● Enhancing Workplace Productivity Minister for Labour

In addition, her mandate will be to address outstanding labour dispute matters, engage key labour partners and advance the priorities of the labour sector.

In welcoming Thomas, Senator Hon Claudette Joseph, said she “brings a rich mix of labour administration and industrial relations experience and expertise to the position. We are confident that she will execute her duties to the highest standard, and we look forward to her contributions in advancing the Department of Labour and its work programme, and the wider transformative agenda of Government.”

Over the last three months, the transitioning of the Labour Department was taken up by Reginald Lord who acted in the position. Last week, the Ministry held a ceremony to celebrate his retirement after serving over 32 years as a Labour Officer. He was described by his colleagues as one who displayed the highest level of professionalism, dedication, passion and inspiration.

Cyrus Griffith served as Labour Commissioner for the past 25 years, including four years into his retirement until August of this year.

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