Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, chats with ILO Consultant, Dr. Victor Coombs (centre) and Executive Director of the Barbados Employers’ Confederation, Tony Walcott, at the workshop. (C. Pitt/BGIS)??

Business operators and managers were recently encouraged to try to see their employees’ well-being as essential for the survival of the company.??

This assertion came from Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, as she gave the feature address at the opening ceremony of a two-day workshop on Occupational Safety and Health and the Environment. It was hosted by the Barbados Employers’ Confederation and the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

Stressing that investing in our workers was of the upmost importance, the Labour Minister said, that especially in these economic times, employers needed to see employee investment on the same level as client investment.??

She stated that this type of investment was a mechanism used to enhance employee loyalty and added that one of the critical areas required for investment was that of occupational safety and health.??

Dr. Byer Suckoo said that failure to promote safety and health would have an adverse impact on the workplace including psychosocial risks such as work-related stress. She pointed out that building awareness concerning safety and health matters could make a difference in the quality of life.

Proclaiming that employee loyalty was a necessity, she pointed out that now, most businesses could not afford to increase wages or hire temporary staff when a worker was on sick leave or on vacation.??

Therefore, remaining employees were now faced with the requirement of taking on additional workloads.??

Emphasising that investment in employees’ safety and health was not a waste, she recalled, "business people around me say that it was very important for businesses to invest in their clients, take time to build rapport and build relationships, because when you are going through hard times, you will have that client loyalty.?? But I don’t hear so much about building that rapport with workers.

"We are now realising that it is just as important, if not more, to invest in your workers especially as these are hard times for businesses."

She explained: "There is a direct link between safety and health and social protection, since employers and employees become more vigilant in this regard and contribute towards safer working conditions.

"I, therefore, encourage you, as decision makers, not to allow safety and health ????programmes to become the first casualties in your efforts to reduce cost, for there is a direct correlation between good safety and health practices, job satisfaction and productivity," Dr. Byer Suckoo said.

Stating that although work-related fatalities had decreased within the past 10 years, as identified in an ILO report on ???Global Trends and the Challenges on Occupational Safety and Health’, the Labour Minister lamented that the current economic environment and its associated challenges had the potential to undermine present achievements.

She lauded the participation of the business leaders and executives who attended the two-day workshop.


Author: Shamkoe Pil??

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