ANGUILLA--Labour Commissioner Jo-Anne Hodge stated in an address marking Labour Day on May 1 that even amid all the uncertainty created by the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, this should be seen as a learning experience for Anguilla and Anguillians.
Hodge mentioned that the loss of job security for many Anguillians has brought forward the need to have permanent social protection measures in unemployment situations. “It has highlighted the need for a contributory social insurance mechanism that caters mainly to unemployment situations, not only within the formal labour market, but also for informal workers, who are usually the most negatively impacted in times of revenue contraction. It has also emphasized the need for persons to invest in savings vehicles targeted at employees, such as credit unions and employer operated investment programmes where these are offered,” she stated.
Hodge also noted the need for non-contributory assistance measures such as cash, food vouchers, fee waivers for certain services subsidies, social pensions, or in-kind donations. She said that the government already supports several forms of non-contributory social assistance such as pensions and school feeding programmes.
Other unemployment support includes measures such as the Labour Department’s unemployment registry and ensuring the advertisement of vacancies for local job seekers. “It can also include job creation incentives by government and the provision of opportunities for skill development in new areas. For these to be successful, they must be utilised in the manner intended,” she said.
She said that the pandemic has exposed the government and many businesses to the world of virtual work, the need for social distancing, working from home, or utilising flexible working arrangements. “It has been proven that working remotely increases productivity and profitability, raises staff morale, allows for talent mobility, and reduces complacency. Work is sometimes assigned to project teams based on staff competencies. Working from home reduces overheads, and allows for flexibility in hours,” Hodge said. “The world of work is rapidly changing and Anguilla must be prepared to embrace this change or risk being left behind.”
“So while understandably, much of Anguilla’s workforce is struggling to comprehend how it will manage scarce financial resources during this stressful period, we should all endeavour to learn from our current circumstances. Let us use this experience as an opportunity to build a more viable and resilient labour force in Anguilla.”