Trade union leaders meet on EPA and CSME at ILO-CCL Round Table

The Round Table will contribute to the public discourse on the Economic Partnership Agreement and the CSME, and allow trade unions to gain a better insight into the characteristics of the CSME and the provisions and implications of the EPA

News | 08 June 2008
PORT OF SPAIN (ILO News) - The social and labour dimensions of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) will be the focus of a Round Table for Caribbean trade union leaders and senior union officials from 23-25 June 2008 at the Accra Beach Hotel and Resort, Barbados. The Round Table is being hosted jointly by the International Labour Organization, Bureau for Workers’ Activities, the ILO’s Subregional Office for the Caribbean and the Caribbean Congress of Labour.

Senator The Honourable Arni B. Walters, Minister of State, Ministry of Labour and Civil Service will deliver the keynote address at the Opening Ceremony on 23 June 2008.

The Round Table will contribute to the public discourse on the Economic Partnership Agreement and the CSME, and allow trade unions to gain a better insight into the characteristics of the CSME and the provisions and implications of the EPA, which was concluded on 6 December 2007 between CARIFORUM (CARICOM and Dominican Republic) and the European Community (EC).

Economic Partnership Agreements or EPAs are the new forms of trade partnerships required by the Cotonou Agreement which covers economic relations between the European Union (EU) and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) states. CARIFORUM is the first group within the ACP to secure a comprehensive agreement that covers not just goods, services, investment, and trade-related issues, but also social aspects, development cooperation, and new trade areas such as public procurement and innovation and intellectual property.

The ILO-CCL Round Table is expected to address trade unions' concerns as they relate to the social and labour aspects and implications of the EPA and CSME, including how to operationalize the "social chapter" and social dialogue. The opportunities offered by the EPA as well as its challenges will be up for discussion.

A distinguished panel of speakers, including prominent trade union leaders, will address the forum. Speakers will include Sir Roy Trotman, Worker Vice-Chair of the Governing Body of the ILO and President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados; Jacqueline Jack, President, and Lincoln Lewis, General-Secretary, of Caribbean Congress of Labour; Claire Courteille, Policy Officer, International Trade Union Confederation; Dan Cunniah, Director, Bureau of Workers' Activities, ILO; Henry Gill, Senior Director, Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM); Professor Norman Girvan, University of the West Indies, St. Augustine; and Dr. Steven Mac Andrew, Specialist, Movement of Skills/Labour, CARICOM Single Market and Economy Unit.

The Caribbean Forum grouping of CARICOM and the Dominican Republic is scheduled to fully sign the EPA into effect at the end of July 2008, after reviews of the agreement have been completed by regional governments.