Jamaican labour minister intervenes to try and avert hotel strike

William Alexander Bustamante - founder of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union

Labour Minister Derrick Kellier has scheduled a meeting for tomorrow with contractors, as well as the two major trade unions representing the more than 2,000 workers at the Fiesta Hotel site in Hanover, in light of a threat by disgruntled workers to lock down the project.

Kellier, who was making his first appearance yesterday at a post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House since he was appointed minister just more than a year ago, is expected to chair the meeting, which will involve representatives of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and the National Workers Union (NWU), as well as the two main contractors on the site.

At the same time, the labour minister sought to play down the threat by the workers to lock down the facility because of poor working conditions, insisting that work at the site had been progressing smoothly since his intervention, following a riot there in February.

"I just want to say that wherever there are worksites existing in the island, unions have an interest and rightly so. This is just a part of the industrial relations landscape that we have to contend with," Kellier told reporters.

However, he admitted that he was calling the meeting, "recognising the need to avert any lockdown of the site and any slow down of the progress which has been achieved".