Critchlow, trades union bodies host workplace safety workshops

The Critchlow Labour College (CLC) partnered with the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to host a series of workshops for workers on Occupational Safety and Heath (OSH).

In a press release, the CLC said the ILO is sponsoring the workshops with the principal aim of developing participants’ knowledge and skill in implementing OSH management systems in their respective trades unions and workplaces. The GTUC owns the CLC.

The first workshop was hosted from May 31 to June 3 in Region One. It was conducted by GTUC OSH Coordinator Dale Beresford and comprised two sessions on HIV/AIDS with workers drawn from the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU), the Guyana Postal and Telecommunication Workers Union (PTWU), the Guyana Teachers Union and NGOs. HIV/AIDS testing and education were conducted at Matthews Ridge and Barima during this period and workers were educated on what constitutes discrimination against people living with HIV, how the disease is spread, how it can be avoided and where to seek help if one is HIV positive.

Prior to the this workshop, a two-day session was held in New Amsterdam, Region Six, under the theme HIV/AIDS Rights and the Rule of Law. Seven unions attended this induction: the GPSU, Guyana Bauxite and General Workers Union, the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union, Guyana Teachers Union, General Workers Union, PTWU and the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union.
Beresford also coordinated this session along with ILO representative Orlando Scott, OSH officer attached to the Barbados Workers Union. Participants were able to identify, evaluate and recommend control methods in eliminating hazards in the working environment. The group also grappled with the impact of  HIV/AIDS on the workplace and participants identified 11 areas of importance to be addressed to ensure the effective and efficient management of the disease. These areas are relationships, honesty, values, lack of trust, sexual gratification among partners, parental and social foundations, faithfulness and prevention methods, religion, ethnicity, enforcing laws and National Insurance Scheme and its contribution to the medical care programme for workers.

In June 2010, the ILO adopted Recommendation concerning HIV and AIDS and the World of Work 2010 (No 200). In 2001 it had adopted the Code of Practice which has been accepted widely and used in many countries and in 2007, its constituents decided to raise the response to a different level through the development and adoption of an international labour standards. The resulting Recommendation No 200 “constitutes an unequivocal commitment by the ILO’s constituency of member states and the representatives of employers and workers, in close collaboration with organisations of people living with HIV and partner international organisations, particularly UNAIDS, to tap into the immense contribution that the world of work can make to ensuring universal access to prevention, treatment, care and support.”

The ILO new labour standard is the first human rights instrument to focus on HIV and AIDS in the world of work, and it is the goal of the GTUC and the CLC to ensure that as many workers as possible are made aware of it. Workers are considered those currently employed, retired/resigned and prospective new entrants. “All have and will continue to play a role in the country’s development and should equally benefit from the knowledge needed,” as the GTUC and CLC continues its struggle to create a just society for all.

Attendees have also been charged to share the knowledge acquired at the respective workplaces and in their communities. In addition CLC Principal Ivor English said more and similar outreaches will be held on this and other issues.

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