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ILO, Department of Labour hold National AIDS Policy session

ILO, Department of Labour hold National AIDS Policy session

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A one-day consultation was conducted on Wednesday, November 9, by the Department of Labour in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO){{more}} aimed at the development of a national workplace policy on HIV/AIDS and non-communicable diseases.

The consultation drew representation from the private and public sector in order that a wide cross section of persons be given the opportunity to make their input into the draft document, Patrice Roberts-Samuel, Labour Commissioner, said.

She explained that the day’s consultation was going to allow for stakeholders to examine two draft documents put together by former Minister of Labour, Rene Baptiste.

“We are all aware of the important mandate by the ILO to promote decent work for all,” Roberts said, adding that the overall objective was to effect positive changes in the lives of people at the national level.

The purpose of the policy, according to the draft document, includes the management and prevention of the spread of HIV/AIDS at the workplace and to put a framework for action in the world of work; to protect human rights and dignity in the workplace for infected persons and to eliminate stigma and discrimination against infected persons.

“HIV/AIDS has impacted the region significantly over the years, affecting workers and their families and the productive sectors,” Phyllis John-Primus, Executive Officer, St Vincent Employers Federation, said.

She further contended that the effects of the disease have been tremendous and that it was the Employers’ Federation that began building awareness of the disease in the work place.

Noel Jackson, representing the National Labour Congress, said that the pandemic was threatening global productivity, more so the small economies such as St Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Governments are becoming more and more unable to provide the necessary medication to be able to deal with infected persons, and this places us in a position where the private sector must play an important role to provide assistance to infected persons and to continue spreading the message to those not infected that they can be infected if they do not do the right thing,” Jackson said.

However, this has been the message being spread for years, but the numbers of infected persons are still increasing, Jackson said.

“Principally, from the statistics we have, there are hundreds out there who have not been tested and do not know that they are infected, and even those infected are not doing what they ought to, to prevent the spread of the disease,” he continued.

There was still a lot of work to be done, Jackson said, and the fashioning of a policy that every employer must adopt was a good place to start.

He, however, warned that unless the policies are implemented, then the principles outlined would never work.

It was with this that he pledged continued support of his organization saying that it touched on the core of what they had been advocating all along.

“We have to be able to deal with the problem because productivity was a problem and the more people become infected means that we will become more unproductive,” Jackson said. (DD)

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