Minister of Labour Manzoor Nadir told a workshop on strategic planning that the private sector should consider establishing flexible work hours, particularly for female employees, in order to boost productivity.
“We must ensure that every member of the employable workforce can give us the best productivity and output,” Nadir said, according to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release. Nadir noted that women are often caught between work at the office and obligations at home, which can hinder productivity and output. He said labour is not only about resolving industrial disputes but it is an important factor of production and is even comparable to entrepreneurial skills. Employees must not only ensure that tasks are completed, but that maximum output and optimal production is achieved.
Nadir said in the Caribbean the participation of women in the workforce has been key to increased productivity and in Guyana less than 50% of employed women are not formally in the workforce and those who are continue in a specific type of employment. A United Kingdom study titled “Lift and Ladders” advocates that data should be collected and analysed in order to unearth the real issue behind the numbers.
The ministry has been compiling its annual Labour Market Information and Hours of Work Survey, which indicates that women are dominating in several areas of employment: banking, telecommunications, textile retail, and public service. Nadir added that based on the current trends, in the near future women may soon outnumber the number of men in the legal and medical fraternities.
Additionally, due to the fact that a significant percentage of the population are single parent women, government has established a programme to assist them and has spent $25M to provide tools of their trade. The ministry said too 38% of young people fail to complete formal education, the majority being men. In this regard, it has set up the National Training Programme for Youth Empowerment, which offers a technical education programme to early school leavers.
Nadir urged employers to provide women with access to the workforce, control over economic resources, improved working conditions and flexible hours of work.
He said the Caribbean has “a fine tradition of progressive policy and legislation dealing with equal pay, training, education and micro-credit for women as well as a wealth of academic literature.”
The three-day workshop, organised by the Organisation of American States, the Inter-American Commission on Women, the ministry, Caricom and the International Labour Organisation continues until today, where it is expected to focus on issues such as advancing gender equality, women in the workplace, decent work framework and non-discrimination. The workshop was funded by the Canadian International Development Agency.