Guyana moves ahead with dialogue on Working People

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Leaders and representatives of the Guyanese working people have embarked on a renewed journey to ensure that workers are given their due.
Over the years, the government of Guyana has taken a number of measures to demonstrate its commitment to improving the lives of its people whether they are employed in the public or private sector. It has been partnering with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to ensure that worker’s rights are not being trampled on.
To further its commitment, government has moved to establish a National Tripartite Committee where it will partner with the Trade Union bodies and other workers’ representative organisations to attain its goals for the country’s workforce.
The establishment of the National Tripartite Committee will encourage social dialogue among employers, trade unions, workers and civil society in a bid to improve the lives and working conditions of employees.
The committee was set up to ensure that workers’ rights are upheld, they are remunerated fairly and that they will be operating in conducive environments.
Priorities of the committee include the crafting of a National Labour Policy, establishment of an Industrial Tribunal, enhancement of decent work, promotion of ‘green jobs’, transparency as well as accountability.
Tripartite Labour Advisory Bodies are common features of the system of industrial relations in the Caribbean both through legislation and practice since colonial times. They were established to deal largely with national labour policy including the regulation of wages, labour legislation and dispute resolution.
Social dialogue on economic and social matters involving the governments, the representatives of trade unions and of employers’ organizations, and civil society has been emerging as a matter of priority.
In fact, in the past, several attempts were made in Guyana to push for social dialogue so as to forge national, sectoral and enterprise agreements beyond the confines of collective bargaining.
According to the Social Protection Ministry, tripartite consultation is integral for an effective system of Labour Administration and social policy as required by the ILO Convention. This Convention provides for an effective system of Labour Administration whose functions and responsibilities are properly coordinated with the participation of workers and employers and their organizations.
The functions and responsibilities of the body include national Labour Policy and Labour Standards, Labour and Occupational Safety and Health inspections, employment, manpower planning and employment services and Labour statistics.
The principles of tripartism and social dialogue have been enshrined in the principal instruments of CARICOM as policy commitments to be adhered to by member states.
Moving in this direction, Guyana’s government has approved the appointment of the Board of Directors for the National Tripartite Committee. It will be chaired by Minister within the Ministry of Social Protection, the Honourable Simona Broomes.
Its members include Minister of Social Protection Volda Lawrence, representatives of the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industries (CAGI) as well as the umbrella trade union bodies: the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Guyana (FITUG).
This committee, it is expected, will deal with matters relating to industrial relations, human resource management and labour policies. The Tripartite Committee was inherited by the current administration which came to office four months ago. The chairmanship of the committee would be rotated among government, employers and the labour representatives. This is expected to give a balanced view of all concerned.
Government has assured that its policies would be hinged on social dialogue in decision-making, partly with the aim of ensuring there is no industrial unrest. The leaders have made clear that Guyana cannot afford to have a work-environment beset by conflicts and confrontations. For this reason, heavy emphasis has been placed on inclusion, consultative participation and transparency.
The success of this initiative is dependent on the elimination of political partisan culture and replacement with consensus and cooperation, the government has said. It is hoped that social dialogue would be built on trust and cooperation rather than politicization.
The committee is expected to meet once monthly to discuss the country’s political, social and economic situation. Those issues would include globalization, the Caribbean Community’s Single Market and Economy (CSME), production, the role of the public and private sectors against the background of government’s involvement, employment policies, HIV and AIDS, child labour, human resource development, labour migration and trafficking in persons.
Even now, the Consultative Association of Guyanese Industry (CAGI) said Social Partnership would be successful only if there is political will as has been the case in Ireland and Barbados where there have been minimal industrial and political unrest .

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