NASSAU, The Bahamas – Hosting the Ninth International Labour Organization Meeting of Caribbean Labour Ministers is testament to the excellent working relationship between The Bahamas and that world body.
The Hon. Shane Gibson, Minister of Labour and National Insurance and Minister of the Public Service made the statement during the opening ceremony of a two-day conference designed to discuss pressing labour matters pertaining to the region.
The Rt. Hon Perry Christie, Prime Minister, officially opened the conference Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at the British Colonial Hilton. Also addressing the opening ceremony were Guy Ryder, Director General, ILO; Giovanni di Cola, Director, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean; Dr. Douglas Slater, Assistant Secretary, General Human and Social Development, Caribbean Community (CARICOM).
Mr. Gibson said it was a pleasure to serve as host Minister of Labour for the conference, which attracted Ministers with responsibility for Labour, Permanent Secretaries and high-level officials of the English and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, as well as representatives of the Caribbean Congress of Labour and the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation.
The delegates representing 13 CARICOM member-states and 9 territories, will meet in sessions to also hear the perspectives of public and private investor representatives from the Governments of Canada, China, the Association of Caribbean States and the CEO of the Republic Bank of Trinidad and Tobago.
He also acknowledged and thanked Mr. Ryder for the impressive work he continues to do through the ILO, which is positively impacting nations around the world, and in particular the region.
“I also thank the ILO for its continued assistance to the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” he said. “The Government of The Bahamas has developed an excellent working relationship with the ILO, and in particular, with its Caribbean Sub-Regional Office.”
Mr. Gibson noted that during July and August 2014, The Bahamas National Tripartite Team held extensive consultations with the ILO on the National Tripartite Council Bill that was recently passed in Parliament.
“It is anticipated that the provisions of this new legislation will foster a more harmonious working relationship between social partners, the Government, labour unions and employers in our national interest.”
He explained that through the sponsorship of the ILO, a Tripartite Training Programme on Conciliation and Dispute Resolution was recently held in November 2014 in conjunction with The Bahamas Department of Labour during which several Bahamians were trained in the area of Conciliation and Dispute Resolution.
“The ILO has also assisted with an Employer Specialist who provided technical assistance to guide and facilitate the recent merger of The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and The Bahamas Employers Confederation, of which we are most appreciative,” Mr. Gibson said.
“We anticipate the continued support of the ILO in providing similar forms of technical assistance to our trade union movement,” he added.
Mr. Gibson also told the conference that The Bahamas was most honoured to participate in and join forces with other countries around the world in discussions on pressing labour issues, including the role of employment and social protection, and the reduction of poverty and equality at the 18th American Regional Meeting of the ILO in Lima, Peru in October 2014.
In this vein, The Bahamas remains committed to being an active member of the Regional Initiative to eliminate Child Labour and the Worst Forms of Child Labour around the world.
“As a Caribbean Community, we must continue to unite to end Child Labour as it deprives children the world over of their childhood and is harmful to their development,” Mr. Gibson said. The Bahamas is looking forward to attending the 104th Session of the International Labour Conference, May 28 to June 12, 2015 in Geneva Switzerland, he said.