Minding Your Legal Affairs

The Employee’s Rights- Part VI

In this week’s article, we will address:

(1). Who is considered to be an employee entitled to the protections of the Act (Employment);

(2). What must be addressed by the employer in the contract of employment/statement of particulars; and

(3). Minimum wages protections.

Who is protected by the Act

The Act defines an employee as anyone who has entered into a contract of employment.

The contract, which is simply an agreement under which someone works and is paid for the work, does not have to be expressly discussed between the parties; their conduct can be understood as creating such a relationship.

This is an implied contract. Also, it does not have to be in writing, contrary to the misconception at large that “we do not have a contract”. It can be for an unspecified period of time. It can be for a specified period of time. Or it can be for a specific task, independent of how long the employee takes to perform the task. A contract is formed once, based on the prevailing circumstances, the parties conduct, express words or actions, an agreement for one to deliver services and for the other to pay for those services, can be determined to exist.

For the purposes of the Act, a person who is considered to be a “dependent contractor” is also protected as if he were an employee.

A dependent contractor is someone whom we might call a “petty contractor”, someone who has to depend upon the individual, firm, governmental authority or company hiring him to provide the means for him to be able to deliver the work, for example, tools, equipment or money.

What must be contained in the contract of employment

Either set out in what is called the contract, or in a separate written statement, the employee, subject to some exceptions set out in the Act, must be provided with details in writing as follows:

(1). The names of the employee and of the employer;

(2). The date of commencement of the contract;

(3). How much and how to calculate wages/salary;

(4). How regularly the employee will be paid – whether weekly, fortnightly or monthly or otherwise;

(5). The nature of the work to be performed;

(6). Normal hours of work;

(7). Any provisions for the termination of the contract other than those provided by the Act and or for probation, different from those provided by the Act; and

(8). Any disciplinary rules applicable to the employee.

Minimum Wages Protection

Legislation passed under the authority of the Employment Act, called the Minimum Wages Order (“MWO”), sets out minimum wages rates/salaries for agricultural workers, catering assistants, clerical assistants, construction workers, domestic workers, industrial workers, security guards and shop assistants.

Given the extensive categorisation, the only persons expressly and effectively excluded from the MWO are persons who are employed in managerial positions.

Minimum wages vary based on job and classification, job location, and business sector. Some variations are based on parish and sector, for example, there are minimum wages differences in some sectors for jobs in St. George, St. David, Carriacou and St. Andrew. Other variations are based on job classifications, and in the case of heavy duty vehicle drivers, on the weight of the vehicles operated.

(The above was submitted by the Grenada Bar Association)

DR. MITCHELL IS THE UNDISPUTED AND DESERVING WINNER OF TAKING ORDINARY WORKERS INTO A FOOL’S PARADISE

by Ray Roberts

Grenadian workers need to rekindle the passion to struggle intensely, and protect their hard earned benefits.

The rich and treasured history of May Day, Labour Day, unites the workers of the world to struggle against injustice of all kinds. And, as such, the Labour movement is irreplaceable in society regardless of their shortcomings.

The fact is Government cannot be trusted because the key decision makers are generally capital and business oriented, and some even with a dislike for organised labour.

Nevertheless, each year, May Day arouses the workers around the world to rekindle the memories of their forefathers who led the early struggles for the 40 hour work-week and much of what today’s workers continue to enjoy.

The unfortunate reality in today’s Grenada is that the Government of Dr. Keith Mitchell is leaving absolutely no stone unturned in its arsenal to dismantle the fundamental pillars of the workers movement.

So clever is Prime Minister Mitchell, that he has used the carrot effectively to entice and attract our most influential trade unionists, culminating in the easy capture of once self-proclaimed working’ class hero, Chester Arlington Humphrey – the prize was the colonial-robed President of the Senate; and oh’ how he loves it more than the British.

No longer is the once champion of socialism/communism/social justice Comrade Chester Humphrey on the side of our nurses, pensioners, teachers, and poor working people. Today President Humphrey is more anti-worker than the true capitalists in the Mitchell Government.

At Labour Day Celebrations in St. David on May 1st, Union leaders correctly called him out for what he really is today; and like Adam in the Bible, Chester Humphrey hid. He stayed clear of St. David. Nevertheless, Labour Minister Peter David, who was booed several times during his speech will surely communicate workers’ message of betrayal. All for greed and personal interest.
The booing of Peter David by the workers when he boldly claimed that the Mitchell government was the most pro-worker government in the aftermath of the revolution was an appropriate response.

Under Dr. Mitchell’s reign, the Public Service is rapidly increasing in contract labour and outsourcing of jobs, and decreasing in permanent jobs – a frightening precedent which is now being followed by the private sector.

Contract workers are dependent on their employer for survival, and therefore they avoid trade union membership and activities in fear of that employer.

The effective use of contracting and outsourcing has given Dr. Mitchell’s government political control of the public service workforce. Old as well as young have an allegiance to NNP for their daily bread.

The Ministry of Labour is at its lowest point in Grenada’s history – a Labour Commissioner in Cyrus Griffith who has long gone passed the retirement age; and is now on contract along with another aging, acting senior Labour Officer. Generally very ineffective!

Unions and workers will tell you that the Ministry of Labor under Peter David is a charade rather than a working institution.

Perhaps the most impressive Keith Mitchell trickery in his long reign as leader of government is his failure or refusal to seriously work to reinstate the Constitutional pension for public officers.

His government has enjoyed almost 25 years of political power since the collapse of the Bishop Revolution in 1983; and any doubts about his unwillingness to treat with that issue is that – having signed a Memorandum of Understanding on pension reform on the eve of the 2018 General Elections with the unions, once he regained political power, he reneged – leaving workers and more so those who joined the service after 1985 in despair.

The late Sir Eric Gairy is credited for using the power of the workers to impact their standard of living and influence in Grenadian society. Between 1951 and 1979, that’s when the Bishop coup ended his reign. However, on the contrary, Dr. Mitchell – 1995 to 2008 and subsequent periods in government, has fooled workers; and above all, made many of their leaders look like cheap mercenaries.

His unforgettable 1995 election ploy – a promise of no Personal Income tax on salaries under $60,000 against the advice of the IMF and World Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank and others, ended in economic disaster and less than two decades later Grenadian workers are back to paying personnel income tax and more taxes than in any other period in our 45 years of Independence.
Dr. Mitchell is the undisputed and deserving winner of taking ordinary workers into a fool’s paradise.

The message to the young workers specifically those under 30 is that Prime Minister Dr. Mitchell takes you on a journey that ends with the overwhelming majority left in emptiness, Yes, there are the privileged few selling passports and a handful of others enjoying the benefits of state contracts who see no wrong; but they too will one day pay a price.

(Ray Roberts is a former Senator for Labour in the Upper House of the Grenada Parliament)

CARICOM DIVIDE MUST BE BRIDGED

It’s no secret that the countries of the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) are divided over the response to the situation in Venezuela.

Detractors of the CARICOM project and Caribbean integration have seized upon the obvious cleavage in the grouping to advance their view that not only is Caribbean integration not possible, it isn’t even desirable.

It might surprise these detractors to know that CARICOM is not the only group of nations in the Organisation of American States (OAS) in which division over the response to the situation in Venezuela exists.

There is similar division among the members of the Central American Integration System (SICA), comprising 8 countries of Central America and the Dominican Republic, as well as among the members of the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), consisting of 11 independent countries in South America (except Guyana and Suriname) and Mexico.

For completeness, we should note that Belize is uniquely a full member of both the 14-nation CARICOM group and SICA.

The fact of a different national position on elements of the Venezuela situation is no indication that integration in CARICOM or any other group of countries is fragmenting, or on the verge of collapse.

Each of these groups are made up of sovereign states. They have the right to act as their governments at the time deem to be in their national interest. While it is wholly desirable – and to their benefit – for all countries in these groups to seek the greatest coherence and unity of action in conducting their external affairs, nothing legally binds them to do so.

In CARICOM’s case, the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas (CARICOM Treaty) states among its objectives: “enhanced co-ordination of Member States’ foreign and [foreign] economic policies”. The obligation is not for harmonisation; it is for “enhanced coordination” which does place an obligation on governments to organise different elements of activity so as to enable them to work together effectively. But, in the end, it does not require them to act in exactly the same way.

The Treaty also provides for the actions of the Council for Foreign and Community Relations (COFCOR). The relevant clauses of the Treaty require Foreign Ministers to: “seek to ensure, as far as practicable, the adoption of Community positions on major hemispheric and international issues; and to co-ordinate the positions of the Member States in inter-governmental organisations in whose activities such States participate”.

In the final analysis, each CARICOM government of the day – like every other government in multilateral and international organisations – acts in accordance with what it considers the national interest as it sees it. The factors that influence what action a government takes in inter-governmental organisations are many. Among them would be: standing up for principle; adhering to international law and norms; respecting the rules and procedures of organisations; and responding to pressure or forms of encouragement from other countries that are capable of punishing or rewarding them.

Those are the facts of life. Undoubtedly, each, or all, of these factors were evaluated by individual CARICOM governments when they adopted positions in the OAS in the debates and votes related to Venezuela. For some governments, being punished or rewarded by powerful countries may have weighed more heavily than other considerations.

In the event, in each of the ballots that have taken place over the last three years in the OAS at the levels of the General Assembly, the Meetings of Consultation of Foreign Ministers and the Permanent Council, CARICOM countries voted differently.

The differences continue now. However, what is at stake in the current OAS situation is no longer Venezuela by or of itself. The issue now directly relates to a movement away from consensus, which has traditionally guided decision-making, to one of imposition of the will of a simple majority. In this circumstance, any 18 of the 34 countries in the OAS can discard rules, procedures, norms and even international law to achieve their own objectives, and that, regrettably, is what has been happening.

The most blatant manifestation of this troubling development is that the Permanent Council of the OAS, which has no such authority under the Charter of the Organisation or by its own rules, was made by a group of 18 countries to unseat the representative of a government, still in effective control of a country, and to seat the representative of another group proclaimed to be the legitimate government.

It takes two-thirds of the OAS member states to adopt the Organisation’s budget. But a simple majority imposed a decision on what faction in Venezuela is the legitimate government and who the representative to the OAS should be. That, of itself, is alarming.

This development was sharply criticised by 15 member states on procedural and jurisdictional grounds. Among the objections to the vote were that: the Permanent Council acted beyond its authority; the decision should have been handled by either an existing Meeting of Foreign Ministers or the General Assembly; and it violates the OAS Charter and its instruments.

México, and 9 CARICOM countries have formally written to the President of the Permanent Council, pointing out glaring inconsistences in the appointment of Mr Juan Guaido’s agent as Venezuela’s Permanent Representative and to non-conformity with international law and the normative framework of the OAS. In the case of the 9 CARICOM countries, they have requested that the existing Meeting of OAS Foreign Ministers review this development.

In taking the action, the nine CARICOM countries are standing-up for adherence to international law and norms, and for the Charter and rules of the OAS, for, without them, the rule of the jungle prevails.

And that affects every CARICOM country, because they are each too powerless to defend their rights on their own.

That is why, whatever factors determine the position of CARICOM governments, they should all be very cognizant that, in international politics, today’s allies could be tomorrow’s adversaries, but
standing-up for principles and the law are permanent and constant values. Those are the shields and swords of small states; they are the factors over which they should cohere in their own interest.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organisation of American States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are entirely his own)

Minding Your Legal Affairs

The Employee’s Rights- Part V

So far, the four (4) articles dealing with employee’s rights under the Labour Code have addressed general protections for the employee with penalties for breach of the rights creating those protections, hours of work of employees, annual (vacation) leave and maternity leave.

In this week’s article, we will look at the other types of leave provided for under the Employment Act – Sick Leave & Family Leave.

It is important to recall that what is set out in the Act are minimum standards, and that employees and employers, either directly or through collective bargaining, can agree to better terms.

Sick Leave

The sick leave entitlement provided under the Employment Act may come as a surprise to most employees as it is less generous than the practice and union agreements across both the public and private sectors.

There is no automatic entitlement to any days off every month or year on account of illness, and there is no entitlement to a specified number of days off without a medical certificate.

The Employment Act says that:

(1). After 12 months of continuous service, an employee is entitled to paid sick leave upon production by a registered medical practitioner;

(2). The medical certificate needs to state the nature of the illness and the length of time during which the employee is expected to be unable to attend work;

(3). He/she is only entitled to be paid in wages by the employer the difference between his/her ordinary wage and the amount he/she is entitled to from NIS. While the Act does not spell this out, implicit is that where an employer pays the employee full wages, the employer is entitled to be refunded when the employee receives his/her NIS payment;

(4). If an employee is absent from work on account of illness for more than five (5) separate occasions in one (1) year, the employee is not entitled to wages from his employer; and

(5). Where the illness requires the employee to be absent from work for more than two (2) months, the employer is entitled to require the employee to be attended by a medical practitioner of its choice, at its expense, to decide whether any further sick leave would be granted to the employee.

Family Leave

The Employment Act contemplates that employers and employees can agree to periods of time for leave in addition to maternity, vacation and sick leave, those being on grounds of family responsibilities. The definition of family responsibilities in the Act is not exhaustive but rather illustrative. The circumstances expressly given as examples are: sickness or death of spouse and sickness or death of a close relative or a dependant person.

The Act does not specify whether the leave under this heading is to be paid or unpaid, and as such, one would expect reason to prevail between employer and employee.
Requests for leave which can be justified under the above heading cannot be unreasonably refused by the employer.

(The above was submitted by the Grenada Bar Association)

OIL & GAS: OUR PATRIMONY, GOVERNMENT’S SECRET

In the first part of this article, we indicated that the Production Sharing Agreement (“PSA”) between the Government of Grenada (“GOG”) and GPG dated March 31st 2008, for the “exploration, development and production of offshore petroleum resources of Grenada”, was for an initial period of 4 years and was manifestly disadvantageous to Grenada.

Because of the plethora of evidence that showed the PSA and the accompanying 40 year Exploration Licence literally gave away the patrimony of the people of Grenada, the NDC spent 2009 to 2012 working to undo the tremendous damage done by Mitchell and Bowen.

During that time, the NDC: (a) successfully defended the case brought against the GOG by RSM Corporation (Jack Grynberg); (b) thoroughly reviewed the agreements with GPG; (c) held discussions with GPG to obtain a better understanding of the circumstances surrounding the signing of those bad agreements and tried to negotiate a better deal and; (d) solicited advice from various experts in the field to help recover our patrimony.

Critically, in 2010, the NDC successfully concluded boundary delimitation with Trinidad & Tobago and was preparing to do the same with Venezuela when we demitted office. Delimiting our maritime boundaries with these two neighbours is necessary to avoid future maritime boundary disputes about where we are entitled to develop and explore for resources.

The NNP recklessly ignored this during its prior terms and again, in the period 2013 to present.

The PSA was not only one-sided in favour of GPG. It also deviated starkly from other similar agreements. At this time, it is not known whether the parties have signed a new agreement on terms more beneficial to Grenada or whether they are proceeding on the basis of the agreement signed in March 2008.

GPG, egged on by NNP, did not co-operate with the NDC administration. Nothing was done under the agreement between 2008 and 2012. For these reasons, we believe that a new agreement was not signed. That is why Government is refusing to be transparent about the current deal with GPG. The agreement is so reprehensible that the people of Grenada are to expect no benefits from the oil and gas sector in the foreseeable future. Any benefit will go to GPG and the third parties contracting with it.

Government continues to lie to the public, insisting that the agreement with GPG is not for public scrutiny. In fact, it is normal in the industry for Governments to make PSAs with private companies public. Often times, the entire agreement is published, as was recently the case with Guyana and its PSA with ExxonMobil.

Complete transparency is crucial as Government must fully account to the people, especially as it relates to revenue management. Only by publishing the PSA with GPG, will the people of Grenada understand the rights and obligations of the parties and the structure for revenue sharing.

Bowen and Mitchell are refusing to make the PSA public because if they do, their lies about how much Grenada stands to benefit will be fully exposed.

Bowen recently told the nation that so far we have received $20 million into our treasury from the oil and gas sector. However, there is no record of this ‘revenue’ in any of our previous Estimates of Revenue and Expenditure. The NDC challenges this administration to show us where in our estimates this revenue is recorded.

We all know of the announcement the Prime Minister made on March 11th 2018, the eve of elections, and the promise of plenty money that we should not put Nazim Burke in charge of. At the NNP convention on October 28th 2018, Bowen told the gathering: “Let us wait for the next year, when we can drill the wells, before we can say we are out of the doldrums economically.”

Yet, on GBN’s Beyond the Headlines on 7th January 2019 when confronted with his election eve promise, Mitchell responded: “I did not say it will come yesterday…based on where we are, I think we will see some results within the next four years.” Mitchell, Bowen and their minions can’t get their stories straight. That is because they continue to disrespect us by telling lie after lie.

On the same Beyond the Headlines show, the host highlighted to Mitchell, the lack of transparency about what’s happening with oil and gas. Mitchell’s response was: “Well as long as we have more information, we will bring it.”

Mr. Prime Minister, you do have the agreement between the GOG and GPG, bring it to us. Make it public just as the Guyanese Government made theirs public.

(The above was submitted by the main opposition National Democratic Congress)

Belt and Road Initiative Outlines Blueprint

China-Grenada Cooperation Embraces New Opportunity

 

By Dr. Zhao Yongchen

 

On April 25-27, 2019, the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) was successfully held in Beijing. The major events of the forum include opening ceremony, leaders’ roundtable, high-level meeting, 12 sub-forums and entrepreneur conference.

The forum was attended by over 6,000 participants from more than 150 countries and 92 international organizations. Leaders including heads of state and government of 37 countries, as well as the Secretary-General of the United Nations and Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund attended the roundtable.

As for Grenada, Hon. Gregory Bowen, Minister for Infrastructure Development, Public Utilities, Energy, Transport & Implementation, Hon. Peter David, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Mr. Tafawa Pierre, Head of Financial Intelligence Unit were invited to attend the opening ceremony and the high-level meeting and delivered speeches at the thematic forum “Digital Silk Road”, “Policy Connectivity” and “Clean Silk Road” thematic forum respectively.

The BRF established the goal of jointly promoting high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. President Xi Jinping emphasised that the Belt and Road cooperation should be a high-quality one that is guided by the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits. An open, green, clean and high-standard cooperation has to be pursued to improve people’s lives as well as to promote sustainable development.

The forum achieved fruitful and practical results and reflected mutual benefit and win-win spirit. China took the lead in summarising the concrete results achieved by the parties and formed a list of 283 results.

China took the opportunity to sign a number of intergovernmental cooperation agreements with the participating countries, including China-Myanmar Economic Corridor Cooperation Plan and China-Thailand Railway. Some participating countries have jointly initiated various cooperation mechanisms such as the establishment of a national standards information platform among the Belt and Road partner countries, the Belt and Road South-South Cooperation Initiative on Climate Change etc. Enterprises in various countries reached numerous agreements on capacity and investment cooperation.

The Chinese side issued the Belt and Road Initiative: Progress, Contributions and Prospects, which gives a comprehensive review of the journey of building the Belt and Road Initiative over the past five years and puts forward the opinions and suggestions for the next step of high-quality development. Together with other parties, China has formed and published the Debt Sustainability Framework for participating countries of the Belt and Road Initiative, which provides a useful tool for preventing and controlling risks in financing cooperation and ensuring the sustainable development of Belt and Road cooperation.

The BRF Advisory Council, composed of international celebrities, submitted a policy proposal report to the Forum, which analyses the positive effects of the Belt and Road cooperation on improving connectivity, promoting world economic growth and implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and puts forward policy recommendations on the future Belt and Road cooperation priorities and the development direction of the forum.

Some relevant parties also jointly launched the Beijing Initiative for the Clean Silk Road, the Cooperation Initiative on Silk Road of Innovation and signed up to the Green Investment Principles for Belt and Road Development.

While continuing bilateral and tripartite cooperation, all relevant parties have also initiated the establishment of more than 20 Belt and Road multilateral dialogue cooperation platforms in the fields of China-European trains, ports, finance, customs, accounting, taxation, energy, environmental protection, culture, think tanks and media, including the establishment of the Maritime Silk Road Port Cooperation Mechanism, the BRI International Green Development Coalition, the Alliance of International Science Organisations and the Belt and Road Studies Network (BRSN).

A Belt and Road international cooperation framework led by the BRF and supported by multilateral and bilateral cooperation in various fields has basically taken shape. These achievements reflect the trend of development and progress of the times and the characteristics of Belt and Road and win-win cooperation.

The implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative in the past five years proves that the Belt and Road Initiative is in line with the general trend of global development, conforms to the inherent requirements of the reform of the global governance system, demonstrates the concept of a community with shared future, and showcases the characteristics of jointly sharing rights and responsibilities. Thus, it grew from success to success.

Jointly promoting the Belt and Road to achieve high quality development has become the common wish of many countries. It should be pointed out that the Belt and Road Initiative is not for possessing the resources of a certain country, neither for the needs of geopolitics, nor for competing for world hegemony. On the contrary, it provides public goods for global governance, including both material aspects such as infrastructure construction and governance concepts and solutions sharing.

The Belt and Road is not China’s “solo show”, but a “big chorus” that advocates mutually beneficial and win-win outcomes for all participating countries, providing a good opportunity for development and prosperity around the world.

China and Grenada signed the Memorandum of Understanding on joint construction of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2018, which opened a new chapter in practical and friendly cooperation between our two countries. Now we are stepping up our implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative memorandum and we will adhere to the principle of extensive consultation, joint contribution and shared benefits and open a series of sustainable development cooperation.

In terms of infrastructure, we may promote cooperation in building high-quality, sustainable, risk-resistant, affordable and inclusive infrastructure, so that Grenada shall make full use of its resource endowment and better integrate into global supply chain, industry chain and value chain. Our two sides may also strengthen new energy cooperation and promote Pure Grenada to a more environmentally friendly one.

China and Grenada enjoyed very good friendship and close cooperation since resumption of diplomatic relations, which witnesses remarkable fruits in various fields.

I believe that with joint efforts, connecting effectively Belt and Road with Grenada National Sustainable Development Plan 2035, our relationship will not only be the model between big developing country and small developing island country, but also the model of the Belt and Road cooperation, so as to better benefit our peoples.

(Dr. Zhao Yongchen is the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Grenada)

The Caribbean ideals of Alister McIntyre

Sir Meredith Alister McIntyre was born in Grenada but for much of his life, dedicated to promoting the interests of the Caribbean, few knew his birth place. What they knew was that he belonged to a group of West Indian thinkers whose identity was West Indian and who worked assiduously in the collective interest of the region.

Since his passing, Caribbean people have heard many well-deserved tributes to him, each recounting aspects of his life that had a common theme – his deep commitment to the Caribbean region.

From the 1970s, there was hardly any significant event in the trade, finance and international political experience of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in which Alister McIntyre was not an active participant.

Among his many contributions, there are four specific areas that have left an indelible mark on the region’s development. These are: his work as part of the technical support team for the Caribbean negotiators of the 1975 Lomé Convention, the first aid, trade and investment agreement between the European Economic Community (EEC) and the African Caribbean and Pacific Group, his participation as a Commissioner in the historic West Indian Commission (1990-1992) and in the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery; his stewardship of the CARICOM Secretariat as its second Secretary-General (1974-77); and his role as Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies (1988-1998).

Sir Alister had the dubious distinction of being the only CARICOM Secretary-General under whose tenure from 1974 to 1977, no Heads of Government meeting was held. Disagreement between Trinidad and Tobago’s Eric Williams on the one hand and Guyana’s Forbes Burnham and Jamaica’s Michael Manley on the other, militated against meetings.

Notwithstanding no meeting of the Caribbean leaders, McIntyre held CARICOM together through Ministerial meetings. While others were staying away from the Caribbean house, he kept the lights shining brightly.

In his tribute to Sir Alister, Sir Shridath Ramphal – a close friend and intellectual collaborator with McIntyre in the cause of Caribbean integration – remarked, “he had devoted his life to Caribbean unity and was already, as he went, worrying over the darkening of the regional scene that threatens”.

It would have been heart-rending for McIntyre in his twilight years to watch the regional integration project pause and even reverse. In company with Ramphal, William Demas (another iconic Caribbean figure) and political personages such as Jamaica’s P.J. Patterson, Barbados’ Sir Henry Forde and later Owen Arthur, he had helped to construct the foundations for a Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) and had proposed reasoned solutions to the problems of implementing regional decisions.

During the short period of his Secretary-Generalship of CARICOM, McIntyre had proposed the establishment of a Caribbean Commission that would comprise a high-powered trio who would implement the decisions of heads of government – something, which for the most part, fell through the cracks in the Secretariat for lack of executive authority and resources.

His idea was developed by the West Indian Commission on which he served with Ramphal (as Chairman), William Demas and ten other West Indians, distinguished in their fields.

The idea, as Ramphal described it in his memoir (Glimpses of a Global Life) was to establish “a small group of some of our best people drawn preferably from public and political life, engaged upon that task of making regional things happen and making things happen regionally”.

While heads of government accepted many of the West Indian Commission’s recommendations, contained in the seminal report entitled Time for Action, they rejected the notion of a Caribbean Commission. In the result, the deficit in implementing decisions of CARICOM remain large, causing one of the greatest criticisms of the regional integration project.

The Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), another of the proposals of the West Indian Commission, did come into being 14 years after it was recommended. At a heads of government meeting in Jamaica in 2006 under P.J. Patterson’s leadership, the CSME was launched to provide the foundation from which Caribbean countries and Caribbean companies could become globally competitive and capitalise on opportunities for market access that could be delivered by joint bargaining with other countries and regions.

P.J. Patterson exhorted the gathering of all CARICOM countries at the highest levels “never to abandon that passionate commitment to the full advancement of the region which has allowed us to fulfil this part of the dream today”. Five years afterwards, at a Retreat in Guyana in 2011, the Heads decided to “pause” the single economy process – a decision that the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, described in a letter to the Secretary-General as “sliding backwards” in a dynamic world. Alister McIntyre must have wept, witnessing the dissipation of his labour and that of his fellow West Indian visionaries.

Fortunately, with the advent of Mia Mottley’s leadership, as Prime Minister of Barbados with lead responsibility among CARICOM heads of government for CSME, energy and resolve have returned to the process.

McIntyre knew from experience learned in the front line of regional bargaining, that, as small states, Caribbean countries need to pool their resources in order to be recognised in the global arena and to give themselves the chance for effective negotiation with countries more powerful than they are. He also knew that it was harmonisation of foreign trade policies (and its international politics) by CARICOM countries that allowed Ramphal and Patterson, backed by technical experts such as he, Demas Frank Francis (Jamaica) and O’Neil Lewis (Trinidad and Tobago), to negotiate the best trade, aid and investment deal that the Caribbean has ever achieved – the Lomé Convention with the then EEC.

Division within CARICOM on external issues, such as the current failure at the Organisation of American States to sustain a regional identity from which the strength of CARICOM countries derive, would have disappointed McIntyre. He acknowledged that CARICOM is a community of sovereign states, but he also knew that the exercise of individual state sovereignty in alliances with countries outside the Caribbean, weakens the region and, eventually, each state. His credo was: “We do it better when we do it together”.

His ideals will live on and they will be kept alive, because they are right, sensible and, in the end, in the region’s interest.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organisation of American States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are entirely his own)

Minding Your Legal Affairs

The Employee’s Rights – Part III

You will recall that in Part I of The Employee’s Rights, one of the protections set out as being guaranteed by the Employment Act was that of the right to minimum standards set out in that Act.

In Part III, we propose, based on interest, to start to deal with statutory minimums for leave, the focus being on annual leave.

An employee who meets certain conditions may be entitled to “leave”, that is, time off from work which does not allow an employer to treat the employment contract as terminated or the employment relationship as broken down.

In some circumstances, the employee must be paid as if he/she worked, and in others, the employer is not required to pay wages but must grant the time off.

Types of Leave under the Employment Act:

(1). Annual leave
(2). Maternity Leave
(3). Sick Leave
(4). Supplementary Family Leave

Annual Leave

Annual leave is what we more commonly refer to as vacation leave. You must work in order to earn it.

How much leave are you entitled to:-

If you are a monthly paid employee, you earn 2 weeks’ leave after the first year and 3 weeks’ for each succeeding year.

Daily paid or hourly paid employees earn leave as follows: 1 working day for every 15 days or 120 hours of work. Where the employee works for half days, a half day is equal to one day, but only for the purpose of calculating leave.

When are you entitled to enjoy your leave:-

Under the Employment Act, you are only entitled to take time off for vacation after you have worked for a year.

The Employment Act guarantees that the employee must have an opportunity to consult with the employer on when the employee will proceed upon leave, but the ultimate decision on the date for leave is the employer’s.

As a general rule, leave should be enjoyed within 6 months of when the leave became due, but there is latitude for the employer and employee to decide and agree otherwise.

The period of leave must not coincide with or include: sick leave, maternity leave, notice of termination and or public holidays.

When is your salary to be paid if pay day is included in your leave period:-

Your wages must be paid no later than the last working day before you start your holiday, unless you agree an alternative date or arrangement with your employer.

What happens if you are terminated and you have not enjoyed all annual leave earned:-

Your employer must pay for all leave earned at the date of termination. The reason for the termination is irrelevant for that purpose. What is important is that you have earned the leave, that is, you have had an anniversary of your employment, and you have not yet enjoyed your leave.

(The above was submitted by the Grenada Bar Association)

Migrant Caravans: Are they in the Caribbean’s future?

Imagine the scene if people with little hope of a better life in Caribbean countries could walk to the United States. Undoubtedly, many would do so, joining the tens of thousands in the present so-called Caravan from three countries in Central America – El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Television, cinema and other media have for decades painted a portrait of the United States as a land of plenty where fairness, justice and the rule of law prevail, and where the poor, however uneducated and unskilled, have a better chance to improve their lives than they have in their native lands.

If that portrayal was ever true, it certainly is not so now. And, to be clear, the unwelcomeness of unskilled and uneducated immigrants did not start with the present US administration of President Donald Trump. The famous legend at the base of the Statue of Liberty in New York Harbour, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore”, has long been abandoned.

Recall the turning back of shiploads of Haitians risking their lives in perilous journeys across the sea to US shores in the 1980s. It was President Jimmy Carter’s Democratic administration in 1980 that introduced detention camps for Haitians – a tool that Republican President Ronald Reagan embraced fully when he came to office in 1981.

President Bill Clinton also maintained the system, trying at one point to convince other Caribbean countries to absorb thousands of the Haitians detainees held in the US. After 9/11, the detention regime expanded under President George W. Bush, and it continued until it has reached the present point of political controversy in the US.

The controversy is not over the desire to curb immigration; it is over how it is done. All parties in the US want the issue tackled. That includes the former administration of President Barack Obama which also detained immigrants and deported illegal ones and those that committed crimes.

The point should be made that the US has no policy to stop immigration. The country has one of the most liberal legal immigration schemes in the world through which skilled and trained persons from every continent have gained access to the US. But, it wishes to stop illegal and uncontrolled immigration, mostly by unskilled people who would increase unemployment, enlarge impoverished areas and add to the national welfare bill. In this overall desire, the US is no different from any other country.

The Caribbean region has experienced – and resisted – migration from countries such as Guyana, Jamaica, Dominica and St Vincent to others like Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda which, at one point, were more economically prosperous.

Haitians have also migrated illegally to the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas where the reception of them was no better than in the US. And, if Haitians could walk to the US, as can the people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, they would be amongst the huddled masses on the US southern border.

What causes this migration from the three Central American countries and Haiti? Some of the factors are now normal. They include high unemployment, limited economic opportunities, inadequate education and training, high crime, poverty, corruption, violence and downright bad governance. But, now, there is a new factor, one that will become a more important determinant in the future – Climate Change.

Thirteen independent Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are differentiated from the three Central American countries and Haiti by three things: a continuing commitment to democracy and the rule of law, including freedom of expression; investment in education and training up to the tertiary level; and lower levels of poverty and crime. These elements allow for continuing investment, both local and foreign, in their economies; keeping poverty levels relatively low; maintaining a steady level of employment; and political stability.

If these CARICOM countries depart from their democratic values, including the rule of law and political freedoms, the effect on good governance will choke-out investment and collapse their economies, driving up unemployment and poverty. In turn, economic refugees will emerge, and they too will find their way to the borders of richer nearby countries such as the US and Canada. Fortunately, there is no sign of such a departure in CARICOM states where people participation in political life remains organised, vibrant and accepted.

However, climate change could well prove to be the common factor that could create refugees for CARICOM countries and Central America in the future. The Global Climate Change conferences in France and Poland talked much but delivered little. The worst aspect of both these conferences was the acceptance that Climate Change, with its attendant global warming and sea-level rise, is a fact of life now and in the future.

The pledging of money to build resilience and mitigate disasters is, of itself, a glaring admission that, instead of stopping climate change, the abuser countries are delaying the total extinction that it will wreak by giving abused countries money here and there to manage increasingly fatal destruction.

Rising temperatures, more extreme weather events and increasingly unpredictable patterns – like rain not falling when it should or pouring when it shouldn’t – have disrupted agricultural cycles, severely affecting farming communities. This is evident in Central America, and the World Bank reported last year that climate change could create 1.4 million refugees as people flee their homes in Mexico and Central America and migrate during the next three decades.

In the Caribbean, in 2017, all the residents of Barbuda became the first climate refugees – people who had to abandon their island which was decimated by Hurricane Irma. Hundreds of Dominicans also had to seek refuge in Barbados and Antigua. As global warming increases to more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, coastal areas of Caribbean countries will gradually be severely eroded, adversely affecting tourism and marine industries, including fisheries.

The first impact will be unemployment and increased poverty. The affected people will have no option but migration, and, to survive, they too will join the caravan of refugees – however they can.

That is why, Caribbean governments and all stakeholders in Caribbean islands and countries with low-lying coastal areas, such as Guyana and Belize, must rail in every global forum against the clear and present danger of Climate Change.

(Sir Ronald Sanders is Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda to the United States and the Organisation of American States. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies at the University of London and at Massey College in the University of Toronto. The views expressed are entirely his own)

Statement by the National Democratic Congress on the passing of Sir M. Alister McIntyre

Grenada and the entire Caribbean have lost an outstanding son with the passing of Sir M. Alister McIntyre. He was indeed a central figure in the evolution of our Caribbean civilisation throughout the last fifty years.

Sir Alister gave freely to the Caribbean, his enormous intellect, knowledge and skills that make him an icon in the mold of William Demas, Sir Shridath Ramphal and other like professionals who provided bedrock support to our post-independence thrust to develop the economic, intellectual and social aspects of our countries.

While giving so freely to the rest of the region, Sir Alister never forgot his homeland and was always available to answer the call to serve, especially in times of hardship. He helped Grenada return to normalcy after the tragic events of October 1983, by giving service to the interim Government of Sir Nicholas Brathwaite.

He helped with Grenada’s economic recovery in the early 1990s by sharing invaluable advice with the then NDC administration as we embarked on Grenada’s only true home-grown Structural Adjustment Program. He served selflessly in the immediate aftermath of hurricane Ivan in 2004, responding positively to a call from Prime Minister Mitchell to help lead the reconstruction effort.
For the above reasons, former Prime Minister Tillman Thomas says that Sir Alister was “a true son of the soil and the region, of whom we are all proud”.

One of the hallmarks of Sir Alister’s legacy was his tenure as Chancellor of the University of the West Indies where he pioneered efforts to provide quality tertiary education, training many of the current leading economists of the region.

As CARICOM Secretary-General 1974-1977, Sir Alister contributed immensely to the cause of regional integration in the same spirit of fellow Grenadian T. A. Marryshow. His expertise was also made available to humanity as he served as Deputy Secretary General of UNCTAD.

As we mourn his loss, we are comforted by the fact that his was a life well lived and his legacy will remain with us for generations to come.

The Interim Party Leader, Executive Committee and members of the National Democratic Congress extend our deepest condolences to Sir Alister’s family, friends and colleagues.

May he rest in perfect peace!

(The above was submitted by the main opposition National Democratic Congress)