Decent Work Country Programme Launched in The Bahamas

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An Article of Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) was signed and launched by Minister of Maritime Affairs and Labour, Senator the Hon. Dion Foulkes, representatives of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Trade Unionists of The Bahamas on Thursday, April 10, 2008 at the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Labour, Post Office Building, East Hill Street. From left are National Congress Trade of Unions President, John Pinder; Minister Foulkes; Director of Labour, Harcourt Brown; and ILO Director, Ana Teresa Romero. (BIS Photo/Raymond A. Bethel)

By: Llonella Gilbert

NASSAU, Bahamas – Minister of Maritime Affairs and Labour the Hon. Dion Foulkes launched the Decent Work Country Programme (DWCP) Thursday, an initiative of the International Labour Organization.

The Bahamas also officially signed the articles of the DWCP during the launch at the Maritime Affairs office.

Representatives from the labour unions, the Bahamas Employer Confederation as well as ILO Sub-Regional Representative Dr. Ana-Teresa Romero and her Deputy Director Mary Reid were in attendance.

Mr. Foulkes said, “This programme will promote the idea that decent work is a key component of national development. It is also the method by which the ILO will deliver its support services to The Bahamas.”

He explained that the DWCP has three main objectives: the institutional strengthening of the Department of Labour; ensuring that social dialogue is central to the making of public policy; and the strengthening of labour legislation and rights at work.

“This hallmark event in our country’s development,” the Minister said, “would not have been possible without the continued participation of those organisations that participated in the Tripartite Forum on Labour held in October 2007.”

Following the Forum, two meetings facilitated by Dr. Romero and her team were held in The Bahamas, resulting in what Bahamian Social Partners regarded as the essential elements for achieving decent work for all who live and work in the country with the assistance from the ILO.

Mr. Foulkes said the Trade Union of Congress, the National Congress of Trade Unions and The Bahamas Employers Confederation worked hand-in-hand with the government to make it possible for the country to sign onto the DWCP.

He noted that the government is firmly committed to the belief that social dialogue is the best method for dealing with labour relations.

“It is my personal belief therefore that all of the groups represented here today and The Bahamas as a nation will benefit from the ILO’s DWCP,” he added.

Dr. Romero said discussions concerning labour issues will continue among all partners (the government, employers and workers), and their findings will be sent to the ILO.

The ILO in turn will continue providing input and information so that all parties make informed decisions.

She noted that while in The Bahamas, the ILO team will be working with the partners to create a work plan that identifies the areas where concrete things can be accomplished within the next three to six months.

“We are going to sit with you and have a discussion as you are best placed to know based on your own commitments what is feasible and what we can do together, so we can really make some concrete progress in the areas we identified as the priorities for this programme,” she said.

National Congress of Trade Unions President John Pinder said The Bahamas is the first country in the region to sign onto the DWCP.

Mr. Pinder said the launching of the DWCP demonstrates that the Bahamian partners have done their job effectively, ensuring that the workforce in The Bahamas will work in safe and healthy environments.

President of the Bahamas Employers Confederation Brian Nutt said, “This is seen from the employer’s point of view as one of the most comprehensive programmes put together by the ILO in its three-tiered structure of institutional strengthening, social dialogue and labour legislation.

“We feel we can benefit tremendously from this programme with the help of the ILO and its technical assistance.”
The ILO is devoted to advancing opportunities for women and men to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity.

Its main aims are to promote rights at work, encourage decent employment opportunities, enhance social protection and strengthen dialogue in handling work-related issues.