The draft policy has been in development since May this year with assistance provided by Ms. Madhuri Supersad, an International Labour Organization (ILO) technical specialist on HIV/AIDS, who conducted workplace assessments that revealed the need for a national policy.
The existing situation is that a few companies have polices on HIV, others have none, and there are inadequacies in general that do not address effectively issues of stigma and discrimination, explained Ms. Shernel James, ILO Desk Officer in the Department of Labour, and HIV Focal Point.
She indicated that the Department of Labour has used the ILO Code of Practice on HIV in the World of Work, and also incorporated the ILO Recommendations, ILO 200, that was passed in 2010
A two-day skill-building exercise on creating workplace policies was carried out in August, and as a result, a core committee was formed comprising member employer organizations, such as the Chamber of Industry and Commerce; workers representatives institutions in the Trades and Labour Union; Officials from the lead organization – the Department of Labour; and representatives from key Government ministries and institutions such as, Gender Affairs, Legal, Health and Social Security.
Dr. Kathleen Allen-Ferdinand was selected and employed by the ILO to conduct a gap analysis and develop a draft policy. That draft policy was completed 28thOctober, examined by the core committee and is now up for discussion during the National Consultation.
A decision was taken to include Chronic Diseases in the policy because of the similarity of issues affecting the productive population ages 15 to 45. Ms. James explained, “We would be the first in the Caribbean combining HIV and Chronic Diseases into a single workplace policy. People’s rights must be protected at all times, and they should not be discriminated against.
The draft policy falls in line with the ‘Decent Work Agenda Program,’ a policy adopted by OECS member countries in December 2010.”