Caribbean Employers’ Confederation and Caribbean Congress of Labour sign MOU in Brussels
On 26 May 2015, the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together to identify areas where common legislative and regulatory principles having regional application are essential, and formulate in legislation principles facilitating the establishment and operation of business and the free movement of labour within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) common space.
They also agreed to uphold and advocate for the principles enshrined in ILO conventions addressing the elimination of child labour, forced labour and discrimination; and the right to freedom of association and to bargain collectively.
The Social Chapter of the Economic Partnership Agreement entered into by the European Union (EU) and CARIFORUM states in October 2008 refers to the obligations of each member state to implement the rights and principles inherent in the eight fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO).
The MOU was signed at the ILO’s Brussels Office, which CEC and CCL were visiting as part of a study tour to gain insight into social dialogue mechanisms within the European Union.
Claire Courteille, director, ILO-Brussels office stated, “We are delighted to host the signature of such an important MoU. Social partners have a key role to play in strengthening regional integration processes and it is just great to see that in the Caribbean, workers’ and employers’ organisations are committed to working together on issues of utmost importance for the future of the region. This could set an example for other parts of the world.”
The study tour forms part of a larger project* funded by the European Union, executed by the ILO and implemented by CEC and CCL to build their capacity in order to contribute to the formulation of economic and social policies at a regional level.
CEC and CCL representatives participating in the study tour come from Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
The group also met with the European Economic and Social Council, the European Commission, national employers’ and workers’ organizations, Business Europe, the European Trade Union Confederation as well as the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
David Massiah, CCL president, leading the workers’ group said: “The Caribbean Congress of Labour is truly pleased to be a part of this significant study tour. The opportunity to observe and experience the workings of social dialogue in another jurisdiction will surely go a long way in encouraging the Caribbean social partners to support and promote an effective social dialogue system in our region. The Caribbean Congress of Labour is very confident that these engagements with the social partner organizations in Brussels will surely help to deepen and strengthen the regional integration movement. Signing this MOU with CEC on the legislative agenda marks an important milestone in our cooperation.”
Wayne Chen, CEC president, leading the employers’ group commented: “The Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) notes this historic memorandum of understanding that heralds a new level of cooperation between business and labour in the Caribbean that will enhance business sustainability, investment and job creation. We now urge our national governments to move expeditiously to implement the appropriate laws and regulations that will enhance regional integration and business development.”
The project funded by the European Union is entitled: “Challenges to CARIFORUM Labour, Private Sector and Employers to fulfil their Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Obligations: Caribbean Employers’ Confederation aSupport to Facilitate Participation of CAIFORUM Civil Society in Regional Development and Integration Process.”