Caribbean Labour Ministers commit to strengthening social dialogue … while focusing on youth employment and the greening of the economy
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PORT OF SPAIN (ILO) – The 9th International Labour Organization (ILO) Meeting of Caribbean Labour Ministers concluded on March 4, 2015, with a commitment to strengthen social dialogue further both at the national and regional levels, and with renewed impetus to focus on creative solutions to the problem of youth unemployment and the greening of the economy.  The Meeting, themed “Decent Work for Sustainable Development”, was attended by 21 delegations headed by 14 ministers with responsibility for labour issues. The Presidents and other representatives of the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) and Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) were also present, along with representatives from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), and UN Agencies (ECLAC, UNESCO,PAHO/WHO and UN RC Office Jamaica),  as well as the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC).
ILO Director-General, Guy Ryder, attended the Meeting and held bilateral meetings with the Prime Minister of The Commonwealth of the Bahamas; The Rt. Hon. Perry Christie, The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling; Minister of Labour and National Insurance, The Hon. Shane Gibson; CCL President, David Massiah; and CEC President, Wayne Chen.
In the presence of the ILO Director-General and of the members of the National Tripartite Council, the National Tripartite Bill was enacted by Her Excellency Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.  The ILO provided technical comments to the draft Bill, which was adopted the House.
Caribbean Labour Ministers at the Meeting called for the systemic institutionalisation of national social dialogue processes and culture which embrace policy areas, and they agreed to support the capacity of social partners to ensure that their interventions to tripartite forums and consultations will add substantive value to the processes.
Given the impact of climate change on the world of work, the Ministers called for long-term policy development, so that countries are sufficiently resilient to meet the related challenges.  It was agreed that new business opportunities, as well as education and skills-training policies, would be implemented in response to the anticipated impact of climate on the workers.
The Ministers called for closer collaboration between the ILO and CARICOM, particularly on youth employment, technical, vocational education and training (TVET), labour market information systems and environmental sustainability.
The Ministers concluded that those countries not-yet signatory to the Regional “Free of Child Labour” initiative, should be provided with information to consider becoming a party to it.
In his remarks, at the opening ceremony, The Hon. Shane Gibson, Minister of Labour and National Insurance, The Bahamas, stated that his country “remains committed to being an active member of the Regional Initiative to eliminate Child Labour and the Worst Forms of Child Labour around the world. As a Caribbean Community, we must continue to unite to end Child Labour as it deprives children the world over of their childhood, and is harmful to their development.”
At the Meeting, the ILO officially informed the Ministers of Labour about a new regional project with CEC and CCL, with funding from the European Union (EU), aimed at strengthening the capacity of workers’ and employers’ organizations in the framework of the Economic Partnership Agreement.
Delegates examined the state of youth unemployment in the Caribbean region, together with public and private partners and institutions such as the Government of the Republic of China, Canada, Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago, and the ACS.  In this session, it was proposed that anticipating skills requirements could contribute to reduce skills mismatches. It was also suggested that colleges and training institutions work closely with social partners in developing work-based learning opportunities, beyond apprenticeships and internship programmes and closer to labour market demand. The session highlighted the need for strong corporate social responsibilities to link youth to the world of work.  Regional certification to ensure consistency of qualifications and opportunities for free movement of youth, by developing fair and sound immigration policies, were also discussed.
Mr Guy Ryder, ILO Director-General emphasized the importance of reducing carbon emissions for sustainable economic growth, generating new jobs and skills.  With sessions led by representatives from the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) in Belize, and the ILO Green Jobs Programme in Geneva, climate change and its impact on the work place was discussed.  With higher temperatures, rises in sea level, and increased hurricane intensity threatening lives, property and livelihoods throughout the region, the need for increased technical and financial support for the development of renewable energy in the Caribbean was raised.
Mr. Ryder stated that the Caribbean has strong traditions of tripartite social dialogue, and mentioned the good practices and innovative solutions which the Caribbean countries are able to implement and share.
In closing the 9th ILO Meeting of the Caribbean Ministers of Labour, Mr di Cola, Director of the ILO Office for the Caribbean stated that the Caribbean Meeting of Ministers of Labour has created a community of interest and a community of leaders, with full participation of all territories covered by the Office and consistent participation of partners such as CEC and CCL, and the CARICOM Secretariat.

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