Barbados on Monday pushed for the region’s private sector and labour movement to address Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders on issues relating to the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), the initiative that allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the 15-member regional grouping.
Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who has lead responsibility for the CSME within the CARICOM quasi-Cabinet, said she wholeheartedly supports the recommendations made in the CARICOM Review Commission chaired by former Jamaican prime minister Bruce Golding.
The group had been commissioned by Jamaica Prime Minister Andrew Holness in July 2016 to review Jamaica’s relations within CARICOM and CARIFORUM and submitted its report in April 2017.
The commission had recommended that the treaty governing CARICOM should be appropriately amended to institutionalize the involvement of the private sector and labour movement.
Mottley said that while CARICOM is not yet at the point of doing this, “we are at that point we need to identify with the common vision and to recognize fundamentally that it is Governments who facilitate growth and . . . to a large extent the private sector has a place at this table.
“Similarly it is the workers who help make the private sector capable of growing and therefore they too must have a place at this table,” she told her regional colleagues.
“I believe there can be no determination as to where we go with CSME without understanding what is the position of those who need to represent and without further ado, I think they should be invited into the room” she said, adding that from her interaction with them before that they do have some strategic positions.
Meanwhile, General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago (NATUC), Michael Annisette, who led a two-member Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) delegation to the summit, said he welcomed the decision to allow both labour and business to address the regional leaders.
“This was a first where we were invited to the heads meeting. We welcomed the opportunity and we assured them that labour is committed to working towards the best interest of the CARICOM region and as we articulated, without labour we really cannot have any solutions.
“We welcomed the opportunity to meet and treat with business. We believe we bring some institutionalized knowledge to the table. We believe we speak for a voice that has not been listened to and if it was, not seriously and therefore we assured them that the goodwill they repose in labour in terms of inviting us to this Heads of Government meeting will not be misplaced,” Annisette told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC).
Annisette said he also took the opportunity to inform the regional leaders that labour is not “anti-business” and “anti-Government” and that labour would continue to adopt strategic positions regarding the welfare of the region’s working population.
He said he welcomed the announcement by some leaders that labour and business, going forward, should be regarded as an integral part of the discussions on the development of the region, adding “ we welcome the whole idea”.
He said labour and the regional private sector have been working for the last five years “to push forward the agenda of social dialogue and tri-partism”.