Ministers of Labour of the Region Highlight the Importance of Working Together to Emerge from the Crisis with Fairer and more Inclusive Labor Markets

Hon. Wendy Phipps, Minister of Labour, et al; Ms. Shernel James, Labour Commissioner; and Mrs. Astric Wyatt-Archibald, Labour Officer with responsibility for International Labour Affairs represented the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis at the XXI Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labour (XXI IACML) of the Organization of American States (OAS) hosted on September 23rd and 24th 2021. The virtual sitting was attended by delegates from thirty (30) member states, representatives from the labour unions and employers’ representatives, and permanent observers. The two-day meeting focused on the theme: “Building a More Resilient World of Work with Sustainable Development, Decent Work, Productive Employment, and Social Inclusion” and was an opportunity to exchange ideas on how the region could harmonise efforts that protect decent work during the COVID-19 response and recovery.

The OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro affirmed at the opening that “today more than ever we need to redouble our efforts to energize our vision of building a more resilient world of work with sustainable development, decent work, productive employment, and social inclusion. Amid this crisis, our region and the world are presented with a unique opportunity to rethink the social contract and go beyond resilience moving towards a more equitable, inclusive and sustainable development model”.

The XXI IMCAL was chaired by Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security of Argentina, Claudio Moroni, who urged authorities to strengthen the processes of regional cooperation and integration.” He indicated “we already have a valuable tool: the Inter-American Network for Labour Administration (RIAL), created within this Conference fifteen (15) years ago and which is a dynamic example of cooperation and solidarity among our Ministries”. The Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations of Barbados, Colin Jordan (outgoing Chairman), explained that “a further legacy of COVID-19 will be a pivot toward entrepreneurship, as persons come up with new ideas and capitalize on opportunities created by the pandemic. We as governments must create an enabling environment to ensure that this new generation of businesses, whatever the scale of operations, are sustainable, function in the formal economy, and can compete globally”.

The XXI IACML agenda included debates on “How to Achieve Better Coordination of Economic, Education, Health and Labour Policies to Overcome the Effects of The Crisis” and “How to Strengthen Ministries of Labour to Address Emerging Changes”. Minister Phipps was one of four Ministers of Labour (Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras & St. Kitts and Nevis) who presented on the topic “How to Strengthen Ministries of Labour to Address Emerging Changes”. Her presentation focused on three subthemes which were 1) The Emerging Changes in the World of Work, 2) The Pandemic’s Impact on the World of Work, and 3) Imperatives for Strengthening Ministries of Labour to Respond to the Impact of the Pandemic on the World of Work.

The XXI IACML concluded with the plenary adopting of the Declaration and Plan of Action of Buenos Aires

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