Rights and dignity
Respecting the rights and the dignity of workers has long been advocated as the correct thing to do by employers. Several countries around the world in accepting this have ratified the eight core ILO conventions that highlight five labour standards.
These standards are embodied in Conventions Nos 87 and 98: Freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; Nos 29 and 105: The elimination of all forms of forced and compulsory labour; Nos 138 and 182: The effective abolition of child labour; and Nos 100 and 111: The elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation.
It is almost taken for granted that when a Government ratifies these conventions, that, automatically, this is a signal that these will be reflected in the subsequent labour legislation of the country. Such has been the case in the instance of Barbados, where successive Governments have demonstrated a high level of responsibility in putting into effect, progressive legislation that promote labour standards, and the rights and dignity of workers.
The labour movement of Barbados must also be credited with maintaining pressure on the Government of the day to make the necessary legislative changes that will lend to securing the rights and maintaining the dignity of workers. This extends to ensuring that best practice is promoted by way of following established process and procedures.
It is all well and good for countries to ratify the core ILO labour standards, but it is certainly another thing if the practice doesn’t accord with the acceptance and intent. It is to be expected that any deviation from the standards or labour practices that have been accepted will result in a human outcry.
When this occurs, there is the need for the offenders to be held accountable. In this case, individual employers, including Government, might be the offenders.
Creating a divide where such indiscretion has been identified can only exasperate the problem. Finding a solution, therefore, seems to be the way forward. In an environment where there is a working Social Partnership, it is to be expected that the tripartite body will engage in social dialogue and consultation as a means to addressing emerging concerns and difficulties.
Wherever they are in this world, workers are the ones who suffer injustices at the hands of the employer. Included in this is would be government that is the largest employer. A review of the those 185 member countries of the ILO that have ratified the eight core conventions as of June 2013 gives some indication of the progress made in promoting and generating acceptance of the rights and dignity of workers.
Freedom of association: C 87: ratified by 153 countries, and C 98: ratified by 164 countries.
Forced labour: C 29: ratified by 177 countries, and C 105: ratified by 174 countries.
Discrimination: C 100: ratified by 171 countries, and C 111: ratified by 172 countries
Child labour: C 138: ratified by 167 countries, and C 182: ratified by 179 countries
The fact that Barbados has ratified the eight core ILO conventions and has been moving to update its labour legislation speak volumes to a dynamic trade union movement, and a mature and responsible Social Partnership. Countries that follow this example will be accepting that “society has a moral obligation, including governmental action where necessary, to assure opportunity, meet basic human needs and pursue justice in economic life”. (A Catholic Framework For Economic Life, United States Conference Of Catholic Bishops.)
(Dennis De Peiza is the labour management consultant to Regional Management Services Inc.
Visit www.regionalmanagement services.com
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