(L to R) Executive Director of the St.Kitts-Nevis Chamber of Industry & Commerce Andrew Satney; Deputy Labour Commissioner Deon Webb, First Vice President of the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union Sydney Bridgewater, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour Ron Dublin-Collins; Deputy Director-ILO Caribbean Office Lars Johansen and Chief Labour Officer-Department of Nevis Gary Liburd (Spokesman Snap)

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts (Friday 18th October 2019) – Yesterday (Thursday), various groups involved in the area of work/industrial relations in St.Kitts-Nevis assembled  for the third annual National Conference on Labour observed under the theme ‘The Future of Work’.

The session which was held at the Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI) in Fortlands, saw more than 50 individuals in attendance hailing from groups including the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union, the Labour Department, Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the St.Kitts Teachers’ Union, the Building & Contractors Association and also the Nurses’ Association.

The agenda for this year’s event was established to be a conference seeking to provide a place for dialogue for national experts, employers and entrepreneurs, trade union representatives and professionals from the public and private sectors to address the challenges and opportunities for the future of work.

The conference was one of the activities for a week of activities-organised by the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Ecclesiastical Affairs- in observance and celebration of the ILO’s (International Labour Organisation) Centenary anniversary, adopting its ‘The Future of Work’ theme.

Topics of discussions looked at areas such as the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME)-Implications for the future of work, the main changes taking place in the world of work in the Federation and How our economy can benefit from ongoing technological transformation.

Deputy Labour Commissioner Dion Webb, during his remarks, touched on the significance of the trade unions and employers organisations.

“Employers organisations and trade unions are distinct from other civil society groups in that they represent the actors of the real economy and draw their legitimacy from the broad and large membership they represent.”

He continued: “Trade union organisations have the mandate to argue to the collective voice of workers; organising, empowering and informing them of their rights and creating the necessary interlinkage between policy level and or employers. Employers have the mandate to argue the collective voices of employers, promoting the interest of business across our economic sectors, advocating for policy and regulatory systems and influencing labour market but also sustaining social peace and maintain enterprise social response.”

According to Webb: “Without social dialogue, the inherent contradiction between labour and capital would not be manage properly. We hope from today’s discussions, we can formulate new recommendations for shaping a brighter and more sustainable future of work in the Federation.”

“The powerful forces of globalisation, the technological and digital revolution, global warming and climate change as well as demographic shifts are challenging the world of work. In the consultation today, we hope to deliberate on how those changes are having profound impacts on the Federation and the Caribbean as well as implications for the future towards achieving a sustainable future,” he added.

First Vice President of the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union Sydney Bridgewater congratulated the ILO on its milestone achievement.

“100 years is not 100 days, and so as we gather this week to applaud this significant milestone of the International Labour Organisation (ILO), I would hereby encourage us to think about the collective contributions in areas of progress made and the challenges conquered by way of enabling us to toast the Centenary Anniversary observed under the theme ‘The Future of Work’.”

He pledged the Union’s determination in continuing to do its part.

“Despite our present challenges, the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union remains committed to the  to ensuring that we do our part to complement the efforts of our like-minded partners. We are determined to push on an organisation formed -80 years ago this year- to protect and further the rights and interests of workers.”

He continued: “Whenever an aggrieved worker/employee reaches out to us, we are constantly reminded that labour-related issues are ongoing and require special attention and action in some instances in the changing landscape of the world of work nowadays.”

Bridgewater said the union is pleased to be part of the National Tripartite Committee that is currently working on the Labour Code document.

“…at this stage we are looking forward to the continued work of helping to fine tune the relevant details of the Labour Code document which seeks to put forward the proper legislative framework that no doubt is critically important for governing the labour/industrial relationship between employers and employees relative to the Federation of St.Kitts and Nevis.”

The Labour Spokesman newspaper is owned by the St.Kitts-Nevis Trades & Labour Union.