Unions Call for More Support from ILO

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Unions Call for More Support from ILO

Trade Unions in Antigua and Barbuda are calling on the International Labour Organisation (ILO) to offer more support to workers’ organisations to help improve their capacity to make strong contributions to the development and implementation of International Labour Standards.

Representatives of the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU), the Antigua Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) and the Antigua Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) met last week with ILO Director for the Caribbean, Dr. Joni Musabayana, to discuss challenges and explore solutions to strengthen their participation in the process.

ABWU General Secretary, David Massiah, noted that some unions in Antigua and the wider OECS lacked the technical capacity to thoroughly examine Labour Laws and assess the implementation of ratified conventions into local laws. Massiah added that other unions needed more guidance on the mechanisms and tools available through the ILO to monitor country reporting and seek redress on issues that are impacting workers.

The General Secretary further called for a “resetting” and common understanding of the role of unions in the tripartite system. He told the ILO Director that the local government needed to do more to promote social dialogue. “There is work needed to facilitate and give trade unions in this country an equal voice on issues the Government is looking at,” Massiah said. He also used the occasion to register his displeasure about the spate of wanton attacks on the ABWU by the local government. He insisted that unions and workers must be respected.

General Secretary of the AT&LU, Alrick Daniel, echoed the call for Unions to be treated with greater respect by the government. Daniel noted that employers “watch and take guidance from the government” in their treatment of unions and workers. He also supported Massiah’s call for greater leadership from the government in promoting social dialogue, not only on issues of labour but also on matters that impact the wider community such as crime.

Daniel urged the ILO to be more active in the region, noting that in earlier years the ILO maintained a robust relationship with stakeholders.

The ILO Director pledged to make the organisation “more available and supportive” of workers’ organisations while acknowledging that the institution needed to improve its visibility in the region. Dr. Musabayana, however, urged the unions to be sufficiently organised to facilitate more engagement in the future.

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