The Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL), along with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the European Union (EU) are pleased to join the global community in celebrating International Labour Day on 1 May, 2018.
Our partnership within the EU-funded project known as “Support to Facilitate Participation of CARIFORUM Civil Society in the Regional Development and Integration Process: Challenges to CARIFORUM Labour, Private Sector and Employers to fulfil their EPA Obligations” has been a fruitful one. The journey has been one of growth, insight, negotiation, stock-taking, reassessing and renewed commitment to the stated objective.
Social dialogue is critical to achieving decent work. Decent work is the driver of economic development and social justice. We believe that strong national and regional Workers’ and Employers’ organizations around the negotiating table make for a stronger CARIFORUM. Social partners have a key role to play, along with Governments, in creating wealth and ensuring its equitable distribution across all sectors of society. This is the best way to achieve stability and lasting peace.
Every opportunity must be seized to ensure that all members of society benefit from complex agreements such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between CARIFORUM and the European Union (EU) that sound abstract yet have a lot to offer for everyone in concrete terms. The decent work agenda is firmly rooted in all of the EU’s economic partnership agreements so that free trade also means fair trade. The role of trade unions and employers’ organizations is critical in the implementation and monitoring of the decent work aspects to ensure positive effects of the EPA on jobs and enterprises, achieve a level playing field on today’s global marketplace, and prevent a global social race to the bottom.
The CEC and CCL have issued joint position papers on issues of common interest which both regional organisations and their affiliates will use to inform their participation in regional and national social dialogue platforms. These policy positions are in the respect of Occupational Safety and Health; minimum wage policy; and social protection. This solid bi-partite stance is a milestone since generally, employers and workers tend to be on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Another milestone is the invitation issued by CARICOM to the CEC and CCL to participate in the upcoming 37th meeting of the Council on Human and Social Development (COHSOD) in Guyana from 2-5 May, 2018. The CEC and CCL will have a chance to be part of these high level discussions which will provide input into policy decisions to be adopted regionally.
The ILO and EU are pleased to have played a supporting role in building capacity in the region, bolstering efforts already being made to achieve a just deal for everyone. Now that the project is ending on 01 May, 2018 it is time to celebrate together our achievements in furthering tripartism, which combines the dynamism of the market economy with a strong emphasis on human security, on education and on social well-being, as we commemorate International Labour Day.