The Labour Arbitration Tribunal has been working to clear a backlog of matters dating as far back as 2015, according to Natural Resources, Labour and Immigration Minister Vincent Wheatley.
While addressing participants at the first workshop hosted by the tribunal, Mr. Wheatley said the body has been faced with 12 backlogged matters and nine new ones since attorney Jamal Smith took on the role of chairman last August, according to a press release about the workshop.
“Mr. Smith and his team have adjudicated or settled 13 of those matters,” Mr. Wheatley said during the March 23 session. “Currently there are eight active matters, and there has already been 15 hearings and two trials for the year, which is a testament to the commitment that the tribunal has to serve the people of the BVI.”
Mr. Smith said the management of the labour market is crucial for economic development and revitalisation, especially while recovering from the 2017 hurricanes and the Covid-19 pandemic, the press release stated.
“The Labour Arbitration Tribunal is central to maintaining certainty and security in the labour market, so this first in what will be many more workshops like this supported by the ministry is absolutely critical to our territory’s economic success,” Mr. Smith said.
The workshop was facilitated by former Commercial Court Justice Barry Leon and attorney Shan Greer.
It focused on the role and powers of the tribunal, as well as procedural hearings, evidence and applications. Participants also attended lectures, group discussions and mock hearings, according to the press release.
Chief Fire Officer Zebalon McLean said he found the workshop helpful.
“We signed up for thisworkshop because we really dowant to serve in a way thatmakes things easier for notonly employees but for employers as well,” he said.“There must be some level ofaccountability, and we want tohave a balance to make surethat many of the problemsthat we have with labour matters are satiated.”
The tribunal is an independent body set up under the 2010 Labour Code with the power to make orders and awards with the same force as an order or award of the High Court.
The parties appearing before the body are entitled to the same rights or privileges as they wouldhave before any court, according to the press release.