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Jamaica: Union Leader Cautions PM On Back-To-Work Order

A LEADING trade unionist has reacted with caution to the impending June 1 lifting of the work-from-home orders, declaring that most employees are in no frame of mind to return to the physical workspace environment just yet.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has given the clearest signal yet that the Jamaican economy is headed for a June 1 reopening, as he has announced that the work-from-home order will be lifted on that date.

Helene Davis-Whyte, president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU), said yesterday that her organisation would be pushing for more details on protocols to govern the lifting of the order.

“I really did not expect that the stay-at-home order would have been permanent. We expect though that the lifting should be determined based on the public-health considerations.

“… We will be enquiring as to what those public-health considerations were,” Davis-Whyte, who is also part of Holness’ Economic Recovery Task Force, told The Gleaner yesterday.

But as several business interests continue to make demands for a set date for the full reopening of the economy, the veteran trade unionist cautioned the prime minister against being pressured to make decisions.

“We are saying to the prime minister, we do not believe he should allow himself to be pressured or coerced into taking any action that is not in keeping with the best interest of the workers,” Davis-Whyte said.

“Not just that they wouldn’t be in a frame of mind, but certainly workers would be concerned that protocols are in place and that employers would be required to observe those protocols”

Holness said all the normal infection prevention and safety protocols, which include social distancing and hand sanitisation, would need to be in place for the June 1 resumption, but did not elaborate on any further requirements.

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