Trinidad and Tobago: the first step towards a social dialogue mechanism
27 June 2012
PORT OF SPAIN (ILO News) - Government, employer and worker representatives agreed today on the need to institutionalize a social dialogue mechanism in Trinidad and Tobago as a key contribution towards economic growth and stability. This agreement was made at a two-day Workshop entitled “Towards People-Centred Development: Social Dialogue as the Key Driver”, organized by the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, with the participation of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of Trinidad Tobago, formally opened the Workshop, and said that it was an “historic” event since “we meet to initiate discussions on a Social Dialogue process, it is indeed the dawn of a new era. It marks the beginning of a new approach to shaping the social and economic landscape.”
“This will need the support of trade unions and employers’ organisations to drive meaningfully this process of change, as we have long gone past the days of ‘master’, ‘servant’ and ‘factories’ and are today speaking of ‘employees’, ‘workers’, ‘partnership’, ‘productivity’, ‘social dialogue’ and ‘decent work’,” said the Prime Minister.
Discussions among tripartite delegates were expected to be the first step in the road towards the creation of a social dialogue mechanism for Trinidad and Tobago.
The Regional Director of the ILO for Latin America and the Caribbean, Mrs. Elizabeth Tinoco, told delegates that “the main concern today is how to promote sustained economic growth that creates jobs” and that “social dialogue is an invaluable tool” to achieve that goal.
“Policy coherence and collaboration is key for social dialogue processes. Only agreements that are based on broad consensus will help promote smooth and prompt implementation,” said Mrs. Tinoco.
Mr. Erroll McLeod, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development of Trinidad and Tobago, said that the discussions among tripartite delegates during the Workshop should establish “the priority areas for consideration and the operational framework of the social dialogue mechanism” in this country.
“This is only the first phase of our initiative,” Mr. McLeod said.
“We have also recognised that it is only through decent work that the contribution of labour to the productive process could be optimised. In this regard, the Ministry, with your support, will actively pursue the finalisation of the Decent Work Policy and Programme of Action for Trinidad and Tobago,” he added.
Mrs. Tinoco pointed out that “Trinidad and Tobago has good foundations for improving the institutions and practice of social dialogue. It is important to come out of the Workshop with a timeline and mechanism to carry out a sustainable social dialogue process.”
The ILO Regional Director added that the Global Jobs Pact adopted by member States in 2009 considers social dialogue and tripartism as the most appropriated method for translating economic development into social progress, facilitating consensus building, and making labour law and institutions effective.
“During the discussions we will learn from the experiences of Maurutius, and from the Caribbean islands of Aruba, Barbados and Jamaica, thereby fostering south-south cooperation,” Mrs. Tinoco said.
During her speech Mrs. Tinoco also said that the ILO “stands ready to assist the tripartite partners in this process by providing the necessary technical expertise and by continuing to facilitate south-south cooperation as required.”
Representatives from Aruba, Barbados, Jamaica and Mauritius were invited as panelists during the two-day Workshop.
Local representatives attending were Mr. Joseph Remy, President of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and Non-Governmental Associations; Mr. Michael Annisette, President, National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago; Ms. Catherine Kumar, Chief Executive Officer, Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce; Mr. Keston Nancoo, Chairman, Employers’ Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago; and Senator the Honourable Larry Howai, Minister in the Ministry of Finance and the Economy.
Other representatives from the Public Services Association of Trinidad and Tobago; the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers' Association; the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers' Association; the Energy Chamber; the Finance Ministry; the Trade and Industry Ministry; the Public Administration Ministry; the Ministry of Gender, Youth and Child Development, as well as the Tobago House of Assembly were also invited to attend the Workshop.