International labour standards provide a legal and policy framework that can help countries shape its national labour laws and employment policies.. National labour administration systems play a crucial role to ensure appropriate implementation of these laws and policies. It is therefore vital that each country maintain a strong and active labour administration system responsible for all aspects of national labour policy formulation and implementation. An effective system of labour administration is also essential for the promotion of sound industrial and labour relations and is an important element in national development.
ILO Convention No. 150 on Labour Administration is an essential tool at the disposal of governments in fulfilling their responsibilities to address labour and socio-economic issues. This Convention, ratified by more than half of the countries serviced by the ILO Office for the Caribbean, emphasizes the role of the competent body, ususally the Labour Ministry, in preparing, implementing and coordinating national labour and employment policy.
The ILO provides technical and advisory support to the Ministries of Labour to strengthen their capacity to implement effective systems of labour administration. At the regional level, the ILO partners with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), with which there is a Cooperation Agreement, to address issues related to the labour portfolio, such as labour and labour market policies, harmonization of labour laws, and the modernization of Ministries of Labour. In April 2010, CARICOM and the ILO hosted the 7th Meeting of Caribbean Labour Ministers in Guyana at which endorsement was given for increased policy coherence between labour, social and macro-economic policies in pursuit of the Decent Work Agenda.
The ILO's work in the Caribbean in the area of labour administration has included:
- the conduct of Functional and Organizational Reviews of the Departments of Labour in Belize, Bermuda, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Turks and Caicos Islands;
- the completion of Diagnostic Studies of Labour Administration Systems in Jamaica and Saint Lucia;
- training for labour officials in industrial relations, conciliation and mediation, and labour inspection;
- the publishing of Labour Administration Services in the Caribbean, a guide for heads of labour departments responsible for the management of the labour administration functions as well as for newly-appointed labour officials;
- the publishing of a compilation of reports emanating from reviews carried out by the ILO Office for the Caribbean since 1997. Entitled "Strategic Visions for Labour Administration in the Caribbean", it presents a comprehensive assessment of the operations of labour administrations in the Caribbean; and
- the publishing of guides on the labour administration systems in Suriname and Guyana: "The System of Labour Administration in Suriname" and "The System of Industrial Relations in Guyana."