SENATOR Dwight Nelson was elected unopposed as the new president of the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions (JCTU) at their Third Triennial General Congress at the Jamaica Conference Centre, downtown Kingston. Sunday, May 10, 2004

Nelson, formerly a vice-president of the JCTU, is a vice-president of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU) and a Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) senator. Earlier this year he led the confederation's team which negotiated an historic Memorandum of Understanding with the government.

In his initial address to the trade unionists, Nelson paid tribute to the outgoing administration, especially former prime minister and current BITU president, Hugh Shearer, who had led the JCTU since its inception in 1994.

Seven persons sought the six vice-presidential posts offered. The six elected were: Helen Davis-Whyte, JALGO, 55 votes; Wayne Jones, Jamaica Civil Service Association, 54 votes; Hopeton Caven, Trades Union Congress, 48 votes; Wentworth Gabbidon, Jamaica Teachers Association, 46 votes; Danny Roberts, National Workers Union, 44; and Iris Wilson, Nurses Association of Jamaica, 40 votes.

Lambert  Brown, a vice-president of the University and Allied Workers Union (UAWU), which was only adopted into the Confederation in recent years, lost out with 30 votes. Sixty delegates were eligible to vote, of which 57 voted.
Industrial Disputes Tribunal (IDT) panel member and former NWU officer, Trevor McNish, who was in charge of the balloting, praised the 90 per cent turnout.

Guest speaker at the congress, former People's National Party senator, Richard Fletcher, now an adviser on strategic planning at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), called on the unions to work with the government and the private sector to help remove the stigma of Jamaica having a confrontational workforce. He said that this was an hindrance to attracting investments.

He also urged the trade union movement to develop a proactive role which, he said, could be a great asset to the country, as many of the countries which had improving economies were blessed with proactive trade unionism.
Former president of the JCTU, Hugh Lawson Shearer, was honoured during the congress.

Tribute was

 paid to him by BITU senior vice-president, Ruddy Spencer. The response was made by Shearer's wife, Dr Denise Eldemire Shearer, who noted that the former president regarded the founding of the JCTU as one of his most important achievements. She said he charged the new leadership to seek new apporoaches in dealing with labour matters, while maintaining the importance of the confederation.

The function  was chaired by Marva Phillips, JCTU council member. Other speakers included Horace Dalley, minister of labour and social security; Lloyd Goodleigh, general secretary of the JCTU, who gave the overview; Paula Robinson, ILO senior specialist; and Herbie Lewis, president of the Jamaica Employers Federation.