The problems that beset the recruitment and employment of workers with disabilities might be the failure of successive governments to put into law a Disabilities Act, a Fair Labour Standards Act or a Code of Employment Practice.
That’s the view of General Secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), Dennis de Peiza. And he says it seems that in order for persons with disabilities to have effective equal opportunities to obtain employment, the process has to be guided by legislation.
He cited limited opportunity for training and promotion that seems to be given to public sector workers with disabilities and public officers who acquire a disability that are often medically boarded, without the effort made to place them in some viable position within the service, as issues that must be addressed.
Delivering the keynote address at the Annual General Meeting of the Barbados Council for the Disabled, held at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa over the weekend, he said he heard of a “ridiculous” reports where a female lost her disability benefit for having been seen in a shop handing a customer a beverage. This apparently was construed to mean that the individual was working.
“If this is the policy which applies, then it means that this is step in the directive of making persons invalids or better yet invalid, casting them to their graves as unproductive citizens. This is senseless, and there is an urgent need for the authorities to put an end to this,” he asserted.
While he believes that the labour movement has the interests and welfare of workers with disabilities at heart, he says they may want to question themselves as to whether or not the promotion of the employment of persons with disabilities has been treated as a matter of priority.
“There is an obvious need for more to be done to ensure that persons with disabilities who are already in the labour market and those who are entering are supported and protected by the measures which are brought on stream,” he further stated.
He is calling for government and employers within the private sector to review their policy on the recruitment, hiring, and the retention of workers with disabilities.
He also pointed to the National Employment Policy of Barbados, which speaks to creating an enabling environment that is conducive to the empowerment of the labour force through employment promotion and the provision of decent working opportunities.