Partnership of law and labour important for greater social harmony and economic development
12 July 2012
Port of Spain (ILO News) - “Law is not a subset of labour, neither is labour a subset of law, rather the two constructs complement each other as partners in championing the basic rights of equity and fairness,” stated the Honourable Errol Mc Leod, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development as he addressed the opening of the International Labour Organization’s Third Caribbean Course on International Labour Standards for judges, lawyers and legal educators. The Opening Ceremony of the five-day training course was held on 9 July 2012 at the Hyatt Regency, Trinidad and Tobago.
“Where Government and the legal profession perform their roles optimally, greater social harmony and economic development are assured. Government has the legislative authority to bring all interest groups to the table to proffer ideas and recommendations; while the legal profession acts as the vanguard of the citizenry to ensure transparency and accountability within the government and other social institutions, “ continued Minister McLeod.
The Minister underscored that a central tenet of the People’s Partnership Government was the integration of international labour standards into the framework for creating sustainable work in conditions which are safe, dignified and productive, and in which workers’ rights are respected.
The Caribbean Course on International Labour Standards is being hosted by the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean in collaboration with the ILO’s International Training Centre and the International Labour Standards Department, ILO, Geneva. The objective of the course is to equip law professionals with the knowledge that will enable them to use international law sources at the national level. International labour standards adopted by the ILO are important tools for the development of national legislation and for strengthening domestic case law on labour matters.
In his remarks at the Opening, Sir Dennis Byron, President, Caribbean Court of Justice, referred to the recent statement by Juan Somavia, ILO’s Director General, at the Substantive Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council in which he cited the unacceptably high levels of unemployment, increasing financialization of the global economy resulting in stagnation in productive investment in the real economy, as well as the high levels of inequality.
“As we face these challenges, a greater reliance on the rule of law becomes more important, “ said Sir Byron. “The Caribbean Court of Justice is mandated to assist in the development of Caribbean jurisprudence and the areas of industrial and labour law remain critical for economic development and social stability.”
Sir Byron commended the work of the courts in the region for upholding the principles of good industrial relations as pillars of industrial peace, economic and social development and highlighted the recent publication of the first volume of the Trinidad and Tobago Industrial Court Reports as a valuable contribution to national jurisprudence.
Her Honour, Deborah Thomas-Felix, President of the Industrial Court, commented that the training on International Labour Standards was timely given the global economic climate.
“Training programmes of this nature provide platforms for regional jurists, legal educators and specialists in labour law to come together not only to discuss and adopt fundamental labour principles but to exchange ideas and information which will ultimately redound to a harmonized approach to the resolution of employment and work-related issues in our region, “ said Her Honour Deborah Thomas-Felix. “The Industrial Court of Trinidad and Tobago is very mindful of its role in social justice delivery and sustainable development and we are currently engaged in the continued strengthening of our capacity and competency as we adapt to a fast paced globalized world. “
Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, Director, International Labour Standards Department, ILO, Geneva, speaking at the Opening, highlighted the conclusions of the International Labour Conference in June, which reaffirmed the universal and immutable nature of the ILO fundamental principles and rights at work, embodied in the ILO Conventions on freedom of association, collective bargaining, non-discrimination and the eradication of child labour and forced labour. Fundamental principles and rights at work were both human rights and enabling conditions for the achievement of other ILO strategic objectives and for the creation of decent jobs.
“It also underlined that the realization of fundamental principles and rights will be advanced by an environment of respect for the rule of law, an independent judiciary, transparent and effective governance, functioning public institutions and an absence of corruption, “ stated Mrs. Doumbia-Henry.
The training on International Labour Standards for judges and other law professionals responds to the call by the ILO Conference for strengthening the capacity of national courts and institutions involved in the enforcement of national laws related to fundamental principles and rights at work. In the Caribbean context, the training supports the recommendations contained in UNDP’s Caribbean Human Development Report on Enhancing Citizen Security 2012, as highlighted by Dr. Giovanni di Cola, Officer-in-Charge, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean at the Opening Ceremony.
Participants attending the Third Caribbean Course include judges, legal specialists, law practitioners and legal educators from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Course facilitators are Denys Barrow, Member of the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations and former Justice of Appeal of the Court of Appeal of Belize and of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; Professor Jefferson Cumberbatch, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus; Dr. Cleopatra Doumbia-Henry, ILO, Geneva; Tzehainesh Tekle, Senior Programme Officer, ILO’s International Training Centre; and Pierre-Francois Recoing, International Labour Standards Specialist, based at the ILO Office for the Caribbean.