SUSTAINABLE ENTERPRISES - PRINCIPAL SOURCE OF GROWTH, EMPLOYMENT AND DECENT WORK -- ILO ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON THE PROMOTION OF SUSTAINABLE ENTERPRISES.
( 4 July 2007 )
“The Government has to play the role of regulator, provider, facilitator to create an environment where businesses can grow” said Acting Permanent Secretary Carl Francis, Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, Trinidad and Tobago. Mr. Francis was a member of the Committee on Sustainable Enterprises at the 96th Session of the International Labour Conference of the International Labour Organization held recently in Geneva, Switzerland.
Delegates to the Conference adopted a resolution acknowledging the key role of enterprises – from micro-enterprises through to small, medium-sized and large companies – as the principal source of growth, wealth creation, employment and decent work.
“Our Government has put in place a number of policies to ensure sustainable enterprise growth. The National Enterprise Development Company has been formed to disburse loans, offer policy advice and do several other things and this has been working well,” Mr. Francis said.
“The Committee was able to come up with text which was extremely palatable to all concerned – employers, workers and governments. The conclusions reflect the need for decent work, attention to youth, women and unemployment, the development of training, use of statistics and information to ensure that we can respond to the challenges that enterprises face in the modern world. This resolution will point the way to success.”
The conclusions outline key areas of focus for the promotion of sustainable enterprises. An environment conducive to the creation and growth or transformation of enterprises on a sustainable basis combines the legitimate quest for profit with the need for development that respects human dignity, environmental sustainability and decent work.
An enabling environment would constitute such factors as good governance, sound and stable macroeconomic policies, good management of the economy, political stability, and the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture.
“It is inevitable that enterprises will have to play a greater role in our Caribbean societies. We have small economies and small and medium-sized enterprises have their share in the GDP. We have to find strategies and models to maintain and strengthen small entrepreneurs and make them more competitive,” noted Rosemarie Defares, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour, Technological Development and Environment, Suriname.
In the Committee sittings, Caribbean delegates made the point that the operation of enterprises both at the firm and national levels required the involvement of many more stakeholders than merely those from the world of labour, for it was difficult to manage a successful sustainable enterprise without taking account of economic, fiscal, trade and social aspects.
The delegates pointed out for example that policies and programmes that ignored the social and labour dimension could result in jobless growth and might be at the expense of workers’ rights, as well as loss of welfare and a lowering of the standard of living of the population.
The role of the governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations was also emphasized.
The conclusions noted that enterprises needed to be viable in order to be sustainable but that did not deny the fact that in vibrant, dynamic economies some enterprises will inevitably contract or fail and there will be an ongoing process of entry and exit. In this regard, active labour market policies and social protection were very important for managing efficient and socially just transitions that take into account national circumstances.
Harry Husbands, Barbados Employers’ Confederation, Barbados, who also participated in the work of the Committee on Sustainable Enterprises, cited the “need for employers to promote productivity and competitiveness while at the same time balancing that with respect for the rights of workers.
”It was however acknowledged that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the design and implementation of policies to promote sustainable enterprises. Policies need to recognize the diversity of country situations in line with the level of development, resources and institutional capacity. Emphasis will need to be placed also on supporting the transition of informal economy operators to the formal economy and ensuring that laws and regulations cover all enterprises and workers.
Full tripartite delegations of six countries of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) participated in the International Labour Conference: The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. Representatives of the following non-metropolitan territories which are covered by the ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean were members of the delegations of the Netherlands and the United Kingdom: Aruba, Netherland Antilles, Bermuda, and Turks and Caicos Islands.
More than 3000 government, worker and employer leaders from all over the world attended the International Labour Conference to discuss issues ranging from decent work and development, to work in the fishing sector and the promotion of sustainable enterprises.
A new ILO Convention and ILO Recommendation on the Fishing Sector were adopted by the Conference along with the Resolution on the Promotion of Sustainable Enterprises. Since 1919, the International Labour Conference has served as a major international forum for debate on social and labour issues of worldwide importance.