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Thomas-Felix appointed to ILO's Committee of Experts
Labour leaders have extended congratulations and support to Industrial Court president Deborah Thomas-Felix on her appointment as a member of the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations.
Thomas-Felix’s three-year appointment was announced in Geneva on Thursday by the United Nations organisation.
The Committee of Experts is composed of 20 independent, eminent jurists appointed by the governing body for three-year terms.
The Experts come from different geographic regions, legal systems and cultures. The committee's role is to provide an impartial and technical evaluation of the state of application of international labour standards.
President of the Banking Insurance and General Workers Union (BIGWU) Vincent Cabrera said while there were several committees under the ILO, Thomas-Felix had been appointed to the main one.
“This is a major appointment and a very prestigious position. I want to congratulate her heartily and warmly,” Cabrera said.
He said that Thomas-Felix would now find herself in an interesting position, as local labour laws were not in line with the international standards which she would deal with in her new position.
“There is a gap between local labour laws and international labour standards. That same committee has in the past, year after year, been critical of the gap which exists between our labour laws and the international standards.”
Head of the National Trade Union Centre (Natuc), Michael Annisette, said he supported the appointment completely.
“We believe her being there will bring value to the ILO post. She is knowledgeable. It is also a good thing for T&T. The ILO is the only UN committee structured to include unions, government and employers. It deals with social issues, industrial relations and workers’ and employers’ issues,” Annisette said.
He said the appointment would expose Thomas-Felix to international best practices which would benefit T&T.
Chairman of the Employers’ Consultative Association (ECA) Suzetta Ali said yesterday the “ECA fully endorses such an appointment and we are very confident that she will bring value.”
Industrial relations expert and an attorney specialising in employment law, Lennox Marcelle, said: “That is a very important committee for labour matters in the world and T&T should be honoured that we eventually have a representative on the committee that looks at annual reports of governments and then the whole conduct of labour relations.”
He said over the years this country has been represented on the committee by a judge of Barbados “so now that she is appointed it is a great honour for T&T and she will do a great job with her qualifications.”
Marcelle said the committee reflected labour standards and since Thomas-Felix was now a member of it T&T must be on the alert. In a brief interview yesterday, Thomas-Felix said she was surprised by her appointment and felt honoured to represent T&T. The Committee of Experts, which was set up in 1926, sits annually in December for three weeks.
The members, registrar and staff of the Industrial Court yesterday congratulated Thomas-Felix on her appointment.
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