ILO meeting of Caribbean Ministers of Labour now underway in Barbados

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The 11th International Labour Organization (ILO) Meeting of Caribbean Ministers of Labour officially started this week in Barbados under the theme ‘Shaping a brighter future of work for the Caribbean”.

Hosted in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations of the Government of Barbados, the event launched with an opening ceremony at Accra Hotel on Tuesday, May 14, 2019.

Keynote speakers included Guy Ryder, Director-General of the ILO, and Colin E. Jordan, Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations for Barbados. Those in attendance included other Ministers of Labour from across the Caribbean, representatives of regional employers’ and workers’ organizations, as well as representatives of other United Nations agencies and regional organizations.

This year’s Meeting is based on the report of the ILO Global Commission on the Future of Work Report titled “Work for a Brighter Future”. The Report was published in January 2019, at the beginning of the ILO’s Centenary year, kicking off the Organization’s 100th anniversary celebrations. It explores how major transformations are challenging the world of work and how those changes are affecting governments, employers, workers and society as a whole and provides a number of recommendations to shape a future of work with social justice.

“Our approach to the future of work is guided by the notion of taking responsibility. It must happen by conscious action: national, regional and international,” Ryder said in his opening remarks.

The Meeting seeks to assess the relevance of the Global Commission’s Report on the Future of Work in the Caribbean. Sessions will use interactive methods to help participants discuss the relevance of the Report to the Caribbean and share ideas on how its recommendations can help address key labour and social issues faced by the region.

“Undoubtedly for us in the Caribbean, intimate knowledge of how the world of work is changing is of paramount importance, if we are truly to be competitive on the world stage. There are myriad of issues to contend with such as climate change, demographic changes, geo-politics, advanced and new technologies, globalization. Added to those, there are the challenges of high unemployment, especially high youth unemployment, economic instability, crime and natural disasters,” said Jordan.

During the discussions, participants will consider the Report’s call for a “human-centered” agenda, as well as for the reinvigoration of the social contract towards achieving decent and sustainable work for all.

“Social partnership has and must remain a crucial means of action in shaping the future of work,” said Ryder.

Delegates will also be encouraged to consider current developments in the context of the Conclusions of previous Ministerial Meetings in the Caribbean, the future Programme and Budget of the ILO, as well as future Decent Work Country Programmes and the role of the Decent Work Agenda in future United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs). They will also take part in discussions aimed at preparing the Caribbean’s contribution to the ILO Centenary International Labour Conference in June 2019.

“Against the backdrop of debates on regional integration, experience shows that the social and labour dimensions of regional initiatives are key if such initiatives are to bear fruit,” said Ryder. “It is important for the voice of the Caribbean to be heard and for the voice of the world of work in the Caribbean to be heard in shaping the future of work.”

The 11th International Labour Organization (ILO) Meeting of Caribbean Ministers of Labour continues until this afternoon.

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