By: Gabrielle Johnson
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Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC)
CEC supports ECA and NATUC signing of MOU to formalize bipartite discussions in light of growing unemployment in Trinidad and Tobago
According to Professor Karl Theodore, member of the Economic Development Board Trinidad and Tobago and Director of the Health Economic Unit at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago should prepare for a 15% unemployment rate. Speaking at the first Meeting of the Trinidad and Tobago Bipartite Forum on 16 February 2016 entitled, ‘Assessing the state of the economy in Trinidad and Tobago’, Professor Theodore stated that he expects to see a growth in the unemployment rate by 2021. Employment in the country has been historically and structurally dependent on the inflow of foreign exchange from the energy sector. With oil prices down to under US$30 a barrel and the current recognized state of recession, Professor Theodore posed three questions:
With these questions a number of considerations were put forward as impetus to begin the brainstorming process by the employers’ and workers’ representatives to develop robust economic proposals for wider discussion at tripartite forums.
Contributing to the depth of the discussion at the meeting, was Mr Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Director of the ILO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean. Mr Salazar-Xirinanchs presented on the labour and employment challenges faced throughout the region following economic strife and encouraged the bipartite participants to look to the ILO’s Global Jobs Pact for recommendations and policies to aid in formulating a plan for recovery.
The meeting was organized by the Employers’ Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ECATT) and the National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago (NATUC), and supported by the International Labour Organization under a European Union-funded project*. The Forum is in keeping with the commitments made by national employers’ organizations and trade unions throughout the region at the November 2015 Regional Bipartite Meeting held in Grenada, to establish bipartite forums to discuss matters of national importance to both employers and workers.
This EU-funded project provides support to the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) and its national Employers’ Organisation members (such as ECATT) to actively take steps to establish meaningful bipartite relationships with their national Trade Union counterparts to enable the organizations to build solidarity and make strong contributions at national consultations and tripartite discussions.
CEC’s President Mr Wayne Chen commented, “The CEC is committed to promoting social dialogue in the Caribbean and enhancing the employers’ organisations’ capacity to make a meaningful contribution. We therefore see this as a historic development that should lessen the current recession’s impact on workers and business and hasten Trinidad and Tobago’s economic recovery.”
The CEC supports the formalization of the bipartite relationship between ECATT and NATUC through the development and signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. The CEC looks forward to similar bipartite engagements in other CARIFORUM countries.
* EU-funded project entitled “Challenges to CARIFORUM Labour, Private Sector and Employers to fulfil their EPA Obligations: Caribbean Employers’ Confederation (CEC) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) Component of the Support to Facilitate Participation of CARIFORUM Civil Society in Regional Development and Integration Process.