The director-general of the International Labor Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, opened a meeting in Jamaica with labor ministers and government representatives of 17 countries of the Caribbean, stressing the need to face the challenges of the world of work and lead the efforts to strengthen social dialogue.
“We know there are challenges, we need to address them,” said Ryder at the tenth ILO meeting of Caribbean Ministers of Labor held in Kingston, 23-24 February 2017. Ryder outlined how this meeting will allow ministers and participants to address social dialogue and partnership to put decent work at the heart of national and regional policy; look at the status of non-standard form of employment; examine options for labor legislation harmonization; share experiences on protecting the most vulnerable through the Regional Initiative on Child Labor; use skills formation for productivity improvements; and advance formalization of the economy – all very important for the region.
He also reminded the ministers’ meeting that one defining challenge in the region relates to youth unemployment with one out of four young women and men not finding a job opportunity. “The 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda with decent work at the heart of it provides the vehicle to tackle our challenges,” the ILO Director General said.
Shahine Robinson, MP, Minister of Labor and Social Security of Jamaica, delivered welcome and opening remarks at the meeting. She called for a more inclusive sustainable growth process with more and better jobs. Truly sustainable strategies for small island development states remained to be found.
She recognized that Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, promoting sustained, inclusive and sustainable, economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all, was “extraordinarily relevant for the region.” Being inspired by the Future of Work discussion held in Kingston, it was now the task of this meeting to identify the practical strategies to realize decent work for all by 2030.
Greetings were delivered by Myrna Bernard, Director of Human and Social Development, CARICOM. She stated that the region had made many advances, however it had experienced sluggish growth as changed market conditions had resulted in increased competition and found the region unprepared. “The region has also seen an upsurge in negative social outcomes and in particular, high rates of youth unemployment, with females being at a greater disadvantage, and also increasing youth crime and violence,” she stated.
In response, she said CARICOM had adopted its first Strategic Plan 2015 – 2019, aiming to repositioning the Community. “This plan is premised on a resilience model for socio-economic progress, focusing, in the main, on the development of social, economic, environmental, and technological resilience.”
The director-general called on participants to be disciplined in working together, not only to adopt conclusions, but more so to stand by them for implementation. The ILO delegation further met with representatives of the Jamaica Employers’ Federation and the Jamaica Confederation of Trade Unions.