Nevis’ Amory Key Speaker at ILO COVID-19 Web Seminar

Senior Minister and Minister with Responsibility for Labour and Social Security, Hon. Vance Amory.
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21 April 2020 (Port of Spain) – A webinar hosted by the International Labour Organization (ILO) Caribbean Office this week, gave senior officials from governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations a platform to discuss how COVID-19 is affecting Caribbean labour markets and possible solutions for the region.

The Honourable Vance Amory, Minister of Nevis Affairs, Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affairs for Saint Kitts and Nevis, began the discussion with an overview of social protection measures that were developed in consultation with tripartite partners and implemented by his government to deal with the unprecedented crisis.

Under the title, “The world of work in a time of COVID-19”, the high-level tripartite dialogue drew over 300 participants from governments, employers’ organizations, workers’ organizations, UN agencies, the media, academia and the general public.

It was framed within the umbrella of International Labour Standards, an essential reference in recovery processes and strategies. During the debate, panellists shared information on adopted policy measures and their effectiveness in mitigating the impact of the crisis on companies, production, and as well as the goal of protecting workers and jobs and preserving income and livelihoods.

During the session, Senator the Honourable Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development for Trinidad and Tobago, highlighted the collaborative approach by government, business and labour to implement health and safety protocols and best practices to safeguard the health of the labour force.

Other featured speakers included regional representatives of employers’ and workers’ organizations who shared their perspectives on how Caribbean countries can effectively cope with the crisis.

Mr Wayne Chen, President of the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC), advised that the pandemic presents an opportunity to leverage technology to continue to deliver education, and that the situation is also a time for workforces to upskill and grasp opportunities created by the crisis. “This is an opportunity for all of us to reset our economies and societies,” he said.

Mr Andre Lewis, President of the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL), stated while the COVID-19 pandemic presents challenges, it is a chance to remodel economies across the region. “The way forward puts people before profit, puts health before wealth, an economic model that is community-based driven in a society that has a basic income guarantee for all. In other words there must be social protection for our societies,” he explained.

Members of the ILO’s senior management team for Latin America and the Caribbean also participated in the discussion by drawing on the ILO’s COVID-19 policy response framework for economic and social recovery in the immediate, medium and long term.

“A healthy worker is the most important thing for the post COVID-19 world,” said Mr Vinícius Carvalho Pinheiro, Director of the ILO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean, who emphasized the importance of investing in workers’ health and safety during and after the pandemic.

“This is a time where more than ever before we need to come together to craft solutions that work. Workers, employers and governments together can make sure we not only address the immediate impact but find opportunity to build a better future of work,” explained Ms Claudia Coenjaerts, Director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean.

The session was part of an ILO Caribbean “Resilient with Decent Work” Webinar Series for representatives from governments, employers’ organizations, workers’ organizations and other stakeholders to discuss the economic and social impacts of COVID-19, as well as effective policy responses.

The next ILO Caribbean webinar will take place on 28 April 2020 (World Day for Safety and Health at Work) and will focus on Safety and Health at Work in the Face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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