Message from Dr. Ana Teresa Romero, Director, ILO Subregional Office for the Caribbean on the occasion of its 40th anniversary

For ILO constituents in the Caribbean, 2009 calls for a “double celebration” - the International Labour Organization is 90 years old and the Office that was setup to serve the Caribbean is 40.

News | 19 October 2009
Port of Spain (ILO News) For ILO constituents in the Caribbean, 2009 calls for a “double celebration” - the International Labour Organization is 90 years old and the Office that was setup to serve the Caribbean is 40.

Established in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on 20 October 1969, the ILO’s Subregional Office for the Caribbean serves 13 countries and eight territories in the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean.

Whether you are a child, apprentice, job seeker, self employed person, worker, employer or pensioner, our work touches important aspects of your life that you tend to take for granted. For example, the right to join or form trade unions and employers’ associations; the right to bargain collectively; protection against child labour and discrimination in employment; paid vacation, maternity and sick leave; occupational safety and health; and pensions.

On 12 October 2006 at the Tripartite Caribbean Employment Forum held in Barbados, governments, employers and workers recognized the importance of the Decent Work Agenda for national development – namely, employment promotion, social protection, social dialogue and respect for rights at work and labour standards.

They said: “We, as tripartite representatives of the English- and Dutch-speaking Caribbean, resolve to formulate Decent Work Country Programmes, to advance decent work priorities in national development agendas.” They also noted that: “…Decent Work Country Programmes should adequately reflect tripartite priority setting, engagement and ownership.”

The Subregional Office is working with constituents of these small island developing states (SIDS) to draw up and implement programmes that will promote economic development with social justice, as well as keep them on track for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Over the decades, thousands of Caribbean citizens have benefited from the ILO’s presence in the region. Policy advice, advocacy, training and technical support have been provided in all areas related to the world of work. The ILO’s Caribbean Team is reinforced, as required, by: in-house expertise at ILO Headquarters (Geneva, Switzerland); the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (Lima, Peru); other field offices in the Americas; the International Training Centre (Turin, Italy); the Inter-American Centre for Knowledge Development on Vocational Training (ILO-CINTERFOR ) in (Montevideo, Uruguay); and networks of international experts involved in ILO projects.

As Caribbean constituents deal with the current financial and economic crisis, and post-crisis recovery, the relevance of the Decent Work Agenda has become even more evident. In April 2009, at a Tripartite Caribbean Conference on the global financial crisis in Kingston, Jamaica, they called for sustainable recovery and economic growth, with full and productive employment and decent work. The same message was delivered by the ILO’s Director-General, Juan Somavia, at the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh; and indeed those leaders committed to “Putting Quality Jobs at the Heart of the Recovery”.

The ILO’s Subregional Office for the Caribbean looks forward to more decades of collaboration with governments, employers’ and workers’ organizations, as they strive to realize decent work in the Caribbean. By so doing, they will contribute to efforts to achieve both the Hemispheric Agenda for Promoting Decent Work in the Americas and the MDGs by 2015.