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Jan 17, 2016 News
With the aim of sensitising the Private Sector, Employers and Trade Unions on “Free Movement” within the Caricom Single Market Economy (CSME), the Caricom Secretariat conducted a two-day workshop at the Grand Coastal Hotel, Le Ressouvenir, on the East Coast of Demerara on Wednesday and Thursday last.
The workshop was cited as being one in a series to be held across 12 Caricom member states in an aim to bring together representatives of the Private Sector, employer bodies and Trade Unions to look at the CSME’s free movement regimes, particularly the movement of skills and labour; also the facilitation of travel, the right of establishment as well as the free movement of services.
Providing the Keynote Address at the start of the recent workshop was Minister responsible for Labour, Ministry of Social Protection, Volda Lawrence.
The minister stated that the workshop was organised to sensitise all members of states and stakeholders to one of the fundamental principles; free movement of labour, which she pointed out “is timely”, since it allows the Caribbean to reflect and reposition its economies and workforce to compete effectively in a constantly changing globalizing world.
Lawrence opined that free movement is a pillar of any genuine single market economy, and in order for that market to function effectively, all the policies and regulations governing the free movement of resources must be understood and adhered to by all stakeholders.
She continued that the workshop was “crucial” because it provides opportunities for reflection; for examining the “inroads” that the CSME has made on the international front, and for pinpointing the challenges and barriers that still exist within member states that may have compromised its smooth running.
Lawrence said that no market is without upheavals and fluctuations, however, it is the Community’s interest to ensure that the administrative and procedural framework is in place in each member state, and relevant legislation and regulations are enacted so that there will be no contravention as the free movement of nationals, goods, services and capital is being undertaken.
While citing that the success of any venture is principled on the “robust nature of the human element”, she said that it is therefore essential to ensure that the nationals are not disadvantaged in any member state; that they enjoy the same rights and benefits they would receive in their respective homelands.
Sharing the same sentiment was the General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) Lincoln Lewis.
“CSME is not just about trade, it’s about people; how they should be treated. It’s about the movement of people. The fundamental rights of people must be respected, which are enshrined in constitutions and law.”Lewis said.
Having worked in the region for nine years in the Labour Movement, Lewis stated that they can safely say – as a movement – that “tremendous” work has been put in place by the “technicians”, however, they have lacked, over time, the political will to ensure that what was developed, has been successfully implemented.
Speaking on behalf of the Private Sector Commission (PSC) was the Chairman Norman McLean, who said that they have been charged by the President, David Granger, to carry out a National Economic Forum.
As it relates to labour in the Caricom Region, he stated that Guyanese have been ahead of the game, because of their overwhelming presence in member-state countries.
“We are everywhere, he said. Adding that, in this regard, the sensitisation of free movement of skilled Caricom nationals is very critical to the whole Caribbean, but Guyana in particular.
McLean who was also Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Government Technical Institute, stated that they are trying to address a National Vocation Qualification (NVQ) which he said was “nearly the same as CXC, but instead of academics and the normal subjects”, the NVQ would be offered to graduates of technical institutes.
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