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Hon. Shane Gibson at Caribbean Congress of Labour 18th Triennial Delegates Congress Business Session Oct 24, 2013 - 4:46:51 PM

Remarks by the Hon. D. Shane Gibson, M.P., J.P., Minister of Labour and National Insurance at The Caribbean Congress of Labour 18
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Triennial Delegates Congress Business Session at Super-Clubs Breezes on Wednesday, October 23, 2013 9am Ms. Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson, President of the National Congress of Trade Union Bahamas (NCTUB); Hon. Senator, David Massiah, President of the Caribbean Congress of Labour; His Excellency Hu Shan, Ambassador to China; His Excellency, Ernesto Soberon Guzman, Ambassador to Cuba; Mr. Obie Ferguson, President of the Trade Union Congress other senior NCTUB labour officials, delegates particularly visiting delegates from throughout the Caribbean, a pleasant good morning to all of you . I wish, on behalf of the Government and People of The Bahamas, to extend a warm welcome to you. I am especially delighted to welcome Senator Massiah as he would, of course, recall that we recently sat th around the same table at the 8 International Labour Organization (ILO) Meeting of Caribbean Labour Ministers in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago in early July this year.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my pleasure to bring remarks, today, at the official start of this Caribbean th Congress of Labour 18 Triennial Delegates Congress Business Session at Super Club Breezes. I wish to commend the CCL, and the Hon. David Massaih, and officers and members of the CCL's trade union affiliates from some 16 Caribbean nations who are represented here for their herculean efforts in assisting in the development of workers throughout the Caribbean region. As a regional trade union federation established in 1960, approximately 53 years ago, CCL now boasts of a membership of half a million Caribbean workers, and 33 affiliated unions representing trade union concerns for workers to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) as well as Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The CCL also works with both the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and the Inter American Regional Organization (ORIT). It is to be commended for its efforts and successes in representing workers rights throughout the region, and strengthening the ties between Regional and International Trade Unions. Here in The Bahamas, we too can boast of our umbrella unions, the National Congress of Trade Union Bahamas (NCTUB) headed by its first female President, Ms. Isaacs-Dotson, who brings a wealth of experience to the job as well as the Trade Union Congress (TUC) led by its well qualified, President, Mr. Obie Ferguson, who was recognized, about two weeks ago, for his outstanding work; along with their various union affiliates have jointly agitated for better working conditions for workers throughout The Bahamas, while working in conjunction with The Government of The Bahamas and Employers. Established on November 10, 1995, the NCTUB has played and continues to play a vital role in the collective bargaining process for thousands of workers in The Bahamas. Ladies and gentlemen It is without a doubt that, over the years, the Trade Union Movement, locally, regionally and globally, has made significant strides in its fight for workers' rights. Notably, tremendous progress has been made, and continues to be made as it relates to improved: a. Working conditions, b. Pay, remuneration and salary increases for workers; c. Implementation of Pension schemes and funds; and d. Training and development programs In fact, many trade unions continue to work with Employers, and Employers Associations and Governments to achieve their set objectives. Ladies and gentlemen, it is no secret that the Government of The Bahamas is a labour friendly Government, that is, fully committed to THE BETTERMENT OF ALL WORKERS IN THE COUNTRY. That is why, my Ministry of Labour and National Insurance will continue to work with all unions throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, in order to improve the socio-economic status of all workers .

Senator Massiah, Madam President and delegates, there is no question that an employees productivity and performance is intricately tied to his or her working conditions, pay, remuneration and benefits. As such, any nation intent upon competing in the global arena must pay particular attention to the productivity of its workforce. The Bahamas Government is, therefore, committed to improving the well-being of all employees both in the public and private sector, so that we might maintain our position as a global player. Ladies and gentlemen, The Bahamas Government has introduced new legislation, namely the National nd rd Tripartite Council Bill 2013, which will be read for 2 and 3 time and passed, in short order, lead to the formation of a National Tripartite Council (NTC). The primary goal of the Council will be to create a more harmonious working relationship aimed at promoting Tripartism amongst Labour Unions, Employers and The Government, in order to properly expedite negotiations related to workers' concerns. It will also bring our labour laws into full compliance, with (ILO) International Labour Organization standards. Additionally, it will: Advise the Government on the formulation of national policies and strategies on all aspects of labour, productivity, quality and competition; Create and develop methodologies for productivity measurement, management and improvement in the public and private sector; Advise the Government on labour and industrial relations matters; Foster harmonious working relations and build trust among social partners; Create and promulgate a national development strategy on labour and industrial relations; Review current labour legislation and make recommendations for amendment of codification of the same; Liaise with national, regional and international organizations on labour and industrial relations; As well as promote training and education of all social partners. In addition to this marque legislation, I propose to table in the House of Assembly, later today, the Regulations to the Health and Safety at Work Act which is long over due in The Bahamas. Ladies and gentlemen I wish to reiterate that the Government has maintained amicable working relations with employers as well as local, regional and international labour organizations. The enactment of the National Tripartite Council Bill 2013 and the Regulations to the Health and Safety at Work Act when debated and passed by the Bahamian Parliament shortly, will further strengthen such ties. Madam President, once formally established, I anticipate that the National Tripartite Council will quickly move to ratify and recommend the amendments to the Employment Act, and the Minimum Wage Act and submit the same to the Government to be tabled in Parliament. Additionally, I hope to see a review to the Bahamian Decent Work Country Program and appropriate adjustments be made to meet the challenges of the ever changing industrial relations environment.

Ladies and gentlemen I wish to encourage the CCL and its affiliate unions as well as our local union bodies to continue to partner with their Governments, in their respective countries in order to bring about positive change for workers. If ever before the need for increased collaboration from all sides of the collective bargaining process is needed, it is now. While we recognize the significant progress made in the Trade Union Movement, I note that your theme, ' Reorganizing CCL to Confront a Changing Global and Regional Economic Environment ,' implies, there still remains considerable work to be done. Challenges such as globalization continue to negatively impact trade unions. According to the ILO, "Globalization is inimical to the existence of the trade union as an institution and the effects of globalization will lead to a weakening of the movement." Further, periodic recessions in the world economy, anti-union strategies developed by leading national governments and some employers, job losses such as those experienced during the 1980's and 1990's when financial international institutions introduced new policies which affected various organizations and countries worldwide and a lack of confidence have all negatively impacted the Movement resulting in a decline in union membership. Ladies and gentlemen Workers also throughout the region continue to grapple with numerous concerns including unemployment, reduced working hours, slashing of employee benefits and inferior working conditions, a lack of training and development opportunities and the need for proper union representation. Regardless of these challenges, your presence at this time at this high level regional conference today signals that the Trade Union Movement in the Caribbean and The Bahamas is fully united, committed, and relentless in its pursuits to ensure better representation for all workers. I wish to commend the CCL and the NCTUB for their joint efforts in holding this most important event which will focus on, over the next five days, a broad range of industrial relation matters all geared at repositioning the CCL so that it can effectively function, so as to continue to bring about positive changes and conditions for workers throughout the Caribbean region. The Bahamas is honored to be the host nation for this major event and is delighted that you thought it th fitting to hold your 18 Triennial Delegates Congress Business Session in our beautiful archipelago of 700 islands. I encourage all delegates to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of The Bahamian people, as well as our unique culture; and to also visit some of our Family Islands. In conclusion, I admonish all union leaders and officials in attendance to openly embrace these sessions, and to engage in positive dialogue aimed at working toward one common goal, which is the ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT OF ALL WORKERS IN THE REGION. I wish you a very productive Business Session. Good day!

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