Honourable Shahine Robinson, MP
Minister of Labour and Social Security
Opening Ceremony of 10th Caribbean Labour Ministers Meeting
Thursday, February 23, 2017 @ 9:00 am @ Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston
Master of Ceremonies
Director General of the International Labour Organization, Mr. Guy Ryder
ILO Regional Director, Mr. José Manuel Salazar Xirinachs
Director, ILO Caribbean Office, Ms. Claudia Coenjaerts
President of the Caribbean Congress of Labour, Mr. Wayne Chen
President of the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation, Mrs. Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson
Director of Human Development in the CARICOM Secretariat, Ms. Myrna Bernard
Honourable Colleague Labour Ministers of the Region
Permanent Secretaries, Advisors and other Distinguished Delegates
Members of the Diplomatic Corps and Development Organizations
Members of the Media
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the Government of Jamaica, I welcome you all to our beautiful island and to this 10th Caribbean Labour Ministers’ Meeting.
As a first-time Minister, it is indeed an honour and privilege to host this high-level meeting. I thank the International Labour Organization (ILO) and its Caribbean Team for organizing it and affording us this forum to, as a region, focus on the challenges facing the contemporary world of work and to commence conversation on not only how to address the present issues, but importantly, how to prepare ourselves for the future.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is appropriate that our deliberations over the next two days will be under the theme “Realizing Decent Work Under the 2030 Agenda”.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as it states, is a plan of action “for people, planet and prosperity”. It is a plan which charges us to collective action in order to achieve universal peace and freedom; eradicate poverty, transform lives and preserve the environment for ourselves and future generations.
The ILO has long impressed upon us - and I daresay that we have all come to accept as conventional wisdom - that decent work is at the heart of sustainable development and social progress globally.
An assembly, such as this, goes a far way in contributing to ensuring that the aspirations of the Decent Work Agenda become the realities of those whom we represent.
We want to address the socio-economic malaise which affects our island states such as child labour, forced and compulsory labour, the gender/wage gap, the impact of HIV and AIDS on our respective working populations, making work places inclusive, to name a few of our areas of focus.
Ladies and gentlemen, we continue to be grateful to the ILO for its continued partnership, guidance and willingness to share its expertise.
DECENT WORK IN JAMAICA
Here in Jamaica, we are grateful to the ILO for its technical support with aiding economic actors in small and medium enterprises to transition from the informal to the formal economy, and into the haven of our various social protection programmes.
We are also making progress with our national Social Protection Strategy to address the welfare needs of vulnerable citizen.
We have long been sold on the ILO rhetoric that ‘decent work is safe work’, which we will solidify through the enactment of a very forward-thinking, ILO Convention-compliant, Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), intended to afford protection to workers in the formal and informal economies alike.
There is also focus on our ageing population and as such a modern National Policy for Senior Citizens is been developed.
A very recent jewel in the crown of our decent work indicators is our ratification of the ILO Convention 189 on Decent Work for Domestic workers which underscores our commitment to attaining decent work for not some or even most of our workers, but that no one is left behind.
DECENT WORK FOR YOUTH
But, ladies and gentlemen, as we all know, for every advance made, more needs to be done. Certainly, ore must be done to shape the workplace of the future for our youth.
This is why our deliberations will be important to help us develop effective and sustainable policy responses that ensure decent jobs for youth. With approximately 36 % of our Jamaican youths unemployed, this is an urgent imperative, as they are expecting us to ensure and preserve their future.
Our Ministry has begun a Social Intervention Programme incorporating training, apprenticeship and entrepreneurship. And a recent newspaper article about an IDB study – titled “Apprenticeships For The 21st Century: A Model for Latin American and The Caribbean” – suggests that this might be a way forward for growth and employment.
DECENT WORK IN THE CARIBBEAN
As a staunch regionalist, I believe we must act in unison to develop effective responses to the opportunities, challenges and threats being created by technology and innovation.
I am confident that this Forum will enrich our eff orts at responding proactively to the potentials and the pitfalls as they emerge from the transformation of the world of work
My hope, therefore, for this Labour Ministers Meeting over the next two days is that we will find enough common grounds,common themes, and common desires to craft the way forward in “Realizing Decent Work Under the 2030 Agenda”. We owe it ourselves and future generations, ladies and gentlemen
In closing, I again thank the ILO for continued collaboration and support to Jamaica, especially as we seek to implement labour standards and Conventions.
I again thank those who journeyed from near and far - and hope that the sessions will be fruitful and inspiring.
I wish you a pleasant stay here in Kingston - and sincerely hope that you might wish to extend your stay here. Whether staying or leaving, do take time enjoy our hospitality, music food and entertainment.
Again I welcome you and say, One Love!!