The Minister of Labour was speaking at the July 16 opening of the Fifth Bipartite National Meeting between the Caribbean Employers Confederation (CEC) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) under the aegis of the International Labour Organization (ILO) with funding from the European Union.
Addressing participants of the meeting at the Marriott, Minister Amory said, “It’s a good sign, and it is one which we need to cultivate and continue, as we look to establish a future in which we could have peaceful coexistence between the two organizations and the people whom you represent for the transformation of the working environments, the transformation of the informal sector, and with the help of government and the ongoing dialogue in the tripartite arrangement.”
He reminded representatives that government’s role is not to be partisan, but its interest lies in the well being of the country. “We are not representative of either union or employees, or, on the other hand, representatives of the employers. We are there to represent both and to create, within the ambits of the legislative framework, a balance to ensure there is harmony and there is progressive development for our countries,” Amory said.
Representing the employers was Damion Hobson, president of the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of industry and commerce. He called for discussion on the recognition of civil society organizations by regional governments, which, he said, will not only help the process of democracy, but it would bring additional focus to the social issues of our people.
“It is the view of the Chamber that one of the outcomes of the initiative is the official recognition of civil society organizations, by our regional governments, as a vehicle designed to further strengthen the democratic process in our Caribbean countries. The employers of this country are very concerned in the social issues that affect the development of our people.”
But he indicated that of great urgency is the need for an improved technical and vocational educational structure.
“This is required in order to produce graduates from our technical schools with levels of certification and, more importantly, proficiencies that would enjoy international recognition,” Hobson said, adding, “The private sector wishes to ensure that a level playing field exists with respect for the competition for jobs for our young people, both at home and abroad.”
Joseph O’Flaherty, the president of the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union, opined that capacity building in the respective labour and employers must also benefit national organizations, as part of the social and economic policy making process. Engendering an inclusive approach to development.
According to O’Flaherty, “It is understood that every institution must play its part. Not only CEC and CCL will have to build and expand their capabilities, but their national affiliates will also have to do so in order to support their regional organizations.
Working together in full spirit of collaboration and cooperation will have substantial benefits to national bodies as such will help to strengthen the regional trade union movement and employers’ organizations, because it provides us with the opportunity to be a part of the social and economic decision-making processes that impact working people.
“It also provides us with the opportunity to develop our organizations into strong representative institutions helping to build a more just society within each member-State of CARICOM and CARIFORUM,” O’Flaherty said as he pointed out that the issue of social dialogue was very important to all the organizations.