Photo 1: ILO Director Coenjaerts (right) congratulated Senior Minister and Minister of Labour the Hon. Vance Amory for organizing the conference.
Photo 2: Stakeholders at the inaugural National Conference on Labour
Inaugural national conference aims to improve labour relations, employment conditions
Basseterre, St. Kitts – The government of St. Kitts and Nevis advanced its agenda to improve labour relations, employment and related issues in the context of sustained economic development when it hosted the first-ever National Conference on Labour at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort Nov. 14.
Stakeholders from a number of agencies from both St. Kitts and Nevis, including members of the recently installed Tripartite Committee – made up of representatives from the government, employers and employees – attended the one-day meeting. The Tripartite Committee was formally established in September 2017 and aims to ensure the development of a culture of innovation, to enhance productivity in all sectors and promote proper work ethics, as well as to maintain industrial peace and harmony.
Topics reviewed at the national conference included “The Labour and Employment Landscape in St. Kitts and Nevis;” “Labour Issues in the context of Economic Integration and Free Trade,” and “Promoting Decent Work.” A group discussion also honed in on “Priority Issues and Challenges for St. Kitts and Nevis.” During that discussion, the participants shared their experiences and perspectives in order to identify solutions and best practices for the way forward.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour Ron Dublin-Collins said the outcomes will help inform discussions and policy planning as it relates to the national development of the federation. “Today’s session is of strategic value in that it provides the opportunity for us to interact and brainstorm, to address the various challenges that we face in this area and to ensure that we have the resolve [to implement] changes … to empower [people] so that the development of our nation can be realized through labour administration,” he said.
The national conference was co-sponsored by the International Labour Organization (ILO), Social Security and the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis.
Claudia Coenjaerts, director of the ILO’s Caribbean office, congratulated the Ministry of Labour for introducing the conference and giving the commitment to stage it annually. “Dedicating a conference to this theme [labour and employment] shows leadership and an understanding of the key role of the Decent Work Agenda for overall policy discourse,” she stated. The Decent Work Agenda, introduced in 1999 by the ILO, looks at productive work in which rights are protected, an adequate income is generated along with adequate social protection, and access to income-earning opportunities is facilitated.
Coenjaerts encouraged participants to “be a voice of positive change and opportunity” and apply the “new knowledge and perspectives that will emerge from the interactions.” She also pledged continued assistance from the ILO.