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Joseph Remy

Mass social upheaval will take place if employers continue to take advantage of workers by forcing them to proceed on no-pay leave, unpaid vacation or retrenchment says president of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions Joseph Remy.

He was speaking amid reports that hundreds of workers were now on the breadline because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Remy said some employers were taking advantage of workers at a time when the world was facing a humanitarian crisis.

He added the Employers Consultative Association and the Ministry of Labour must do more to ensure that workers do not face all the burden. He noted that several companies had sent home workers without pay. “I am deeply concerned and as a member of the tripartite advisory council, ILO regulations should be adhered to in terms of how employers were treating the workers. We hope that COVID-19 is not used to victimise and take advantage of workers,” Remy said.

He added that Fitun and the National Trade Union Centre were working on putting something together.

Remy said he was happy the ECA was doing seminars to guide the employers about unfair work practices.

Fitun will be putting measures in place to reach out to unrepresented workers. He said anyone with complaints can contact Fitun at [email protected]

General secretary of the Joint Trade Union Movement Ozzi Warwick said JTUM has also been hearing about companies laying off workers.

“This is a human crisis…My message is for people to stay at home. It is a serious thing, thousands are dying.”

He called on the Minister of Labour to crack down on errant businesspeople.