Meeting of Caribbean Labour Ministers opens In Bahamas

POSTED: 03/9/15 6:30 PM

GREATBAY/NASSAU, Bahamas – Perry Christie, prime minister of The Bahamas delivered the keynote address at the ninth ILO meeting of Caribbean labour ministers held in Nassau.

Guy Ryder, director-general of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and Dr Douglas Slater, assistant secretary general, human and social development, Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat also addressed the opening ceremony.

Christie referred to the issue of youth employment in the Caribbean, warning that “we ignore it at our peril.” He also cautioned that “when people are desperate and they are young and they cannot realistically aspire to a life of dignity in the workplace, then you have trouble in your backyard.”

He asked delegates to keep this in mind when deliberating during the meeting. “We have an extraordinary challenge ahead of us.”

Ryder highlighted that young people under age of 25, are three times more likely to be unemployed. Current estimates indicate that 75 million people under the age of 25 are out of work.

The director-general, congratulated The Bahamas on the adoption of a National Tripartite Bill, which was signed by Dame Marguerite Pindling, Governor-General of The Bahamas, in the presence of the ILO director-general and of the members of the National Tripartite Council.

He also pointed out that social dialogue must be the mechanism through which employment and labour market issues are addressed. Institutionalization of tripartite consultations is important both at the national and regional level.

Ryder noted that the Caribbean region has been increasing its presence on the global stage, from tripartite representation at the 2014 United Nations Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS Conference), held in Samoa, to a record attendance of Caribbean member states at the last ILO American regional meeting held in Lima, Peru, in October 2014. Ryder also indicated that the ILO Office for the Caribbean will continue to provide technical assistance and resources to the constituents and that it will be reinforced.

Ryder stated that the ILO is strongly committed to convening the Caribbean ministers of labour meeting every two years, to listen to the constituents and to respond to their needs with practical solutions.

Slater emphasized the need for governments to keep pace with skills development requirements for the labour market. He stressed the importance of timely labour market intelligence in the region. In this regard CARICOM supports member states to further develop their capacity in labour market information systems.

The meeting, organized by the ILO in collaboration with the government of The Bahamas, brings together 15 ministers with responsibility for labour, as well as permanent secretaries and high-level officials, from some 22 countries and territories of the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, coordinated by the ILO Office for the Caribbean.

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