A detailed examination of the Jamaican Labour Laws
HRNM 6015/ HR67A Industrial Relations and Negotiations
(Semester II: 2013)
University of the West Indies
Department of Social Sciences
An exploration into whose interest is served by the law and the reality of a class bias.
Submitted as partial completion of the requirement for the Masters of Science Degree Human Resource Development at the UWI (Mona)
Labour law in the Caribbean and Jamaica in particularly has traditionally been shaped by social, economic and political influences Goolsaran (2005). Over the past 100 years, its major challenge has been its response to social and political demands for workers’ rights, justice and democracy at the workplace. This research paper seeks to accomplish the goals of giving a detailed examination of the Jamaican labour laws using both contemporary and historical references while seeking to answer the questions- whose interest do the laws serve? Is there class bias? Definition
The term labour law consists of principles, rules and norms that regulate employment relations. Deakin and Morris (2001) argue that, a broader perspective would see labour law as the normative framework for the existence and operation of all the institutions of the labour market: the business enterprise, trade unions, and employers’ associations and, in its capacity as regulator and as employer, the state. Labour law is primarily concerned with the rights of workers, trade unions and employers, standards applicable to employment relations, and the regulation of industrial relations and the labour market. Background of the Labour relation systems in Jamaica
Labour has always been one of the central problems of colonialism theorizes Wilson (1996). He contends that the labour problem began with the need to obtain workers to cultivate the plantations, provide domestic services and do every other kind of physical task that had to be carried out to develop the economy and administration of colonies. The period that starts the current understanding of industrial relations began with colonial domination of the Caribbean Island and a demand for labour which produced a supply of slaves that supplied the needs of the West Indies and Jamaica until public opinion in Britain revolted against the system of slavery and the trade was brought to an end. When it came to industrial relations and treatment of slaves, the ownership concept was complete . While the worst excesses of slave owners' treatment of slaves was eventually met by regulations drawn up by the colonial office on the care, feeding and treatment of slaves, as with most legislation passed by states in the Caribbean and Jamaica in particular, implementation of these regulations was not carefully supervised. The treatment of workers was oppressive, exploitative, expected unquestioning obedience, featured punishment as a means of discipline, (indeed, as the only means of discipline), and in the case of women, included the assumption that sexual use of their bodies was the automatic right of whichever male was in authority. This might be the overseer or one of his delegates as well as the owner. The homosexual abuse of male slaves has not been widely recorded, but this is not an indication it never happened.
The concept of human rights and labour laws back then in Jamaica known since the codification of Roman law did not extend to slaves, women or children Goolsaran (2005). The idea that they might have harboured normal feelings of anger as a result does not appear to have been understood. The effects, though, of how slaves felt over their treatment were evident in industrial relations terms where low productivity, avoidance of work wherever possible, manipulation and dissembling became characteristic non-violent means of worker protest while authoritarianism and /or paternalism characterized managerial styles....
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