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Remarks by Minister of Labour at Annual General Assembly of National Tripartite Council
Mar 22, 2019 - 2:15:58 PM

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Senator The Hon. Dion A. Foulkes

Minister of Labour

At The

National Tripartite Council

2019 Annual General Assembly

March 22, 2019

National Training Agency Building

Senator the Hon. Jennifer Isaacs-Dotson;

Mr. Chairman and other distinguished members of the National Tripartite Council;

President Bernard Evans, executive officers and affiliates of the National Congress of Trade Unions Bahamas;

President Obie Ferguson, executive officers and affiliates of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas Trade Union Congress;

Mr. Jeffrey Beckles, Chief Executive Officer of The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation and affiliate members of the Chamber;

Ms. Cecilia Strachan, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour and other colleagues from the Ministry of Labour;

Mr. John Pinder, Acting Director of Labour and the staff of the Department of Labour;

Indira Demeritte Francis- President of the Industrial Tribunal and Marilyn Meers Vice President;

Other senior government officials,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Invited guests,

Good morning.

It is with much pride and joy that I greet you this morning on the occasion of the National Tripartite Council’s (NTC) 2019 Annual General Assembly.  I often boast of my involvement in the formalization of the statutory instrument that established the National Tripartite Council, which is known in The Bahamas as TRIFOR. As the Minister of Labour I am always happy to highlight my connection to the Trade Union Movement, which was my inspiration in helping to form the TRIFOR concept that is based on the principles outlined in ILO Convention 144: Concerning Tripartite Consultations to Promote the Implementation of International Labour Standards.

Fellow delegates, under the theme “Transform, Innovate & Restore”, the social partners and other stakeholders will today receive a comprehensive report of the activities of the Council over the past few years as well as a detailed overview of the goals and objectives contained in the 2018 – 2021 Strategic Plan of the NTC.  In July of 2018 our social partners, pursuant to Section 9(4) of the National Tripartite Act 2015,  made a number of new appointments to the Council that have proven to be extremely beneficial to its overall operational efficiency. 

I wish to again express my sincere thanks and appreciation to those Executive and Non-Executive Members that served during the 2015 – 2018 period for the splendid job they did in serving as the initial members of this historic entity.  I want to also commend the present Council members for the fabulous work that is being done to underpin the tripartite concept in The Bahamas and to maintain an harmonious industrial relations environment in the country.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am advised that the goals set by the NTC in the approved Strategic Plan have been described as aggressive and ambitious, however, I am convinced that with the strong and committed leadership of all Council members, we as a people can achieve most, if not all of those objectives. During the course of your deliberations today, more details on the enactment of national productivity legislation will be given.

This initiative is the number one priority of the NTC and critical to the future economic growth of the Bahamian economy. The transformation of the Industrial Tribunal is another exciting project of the Council and is vital to the restoration of confidence in the nation’s dispute resolution system. Labelled as innovative and transformative the Tribunal project will need advice and input from other stakeholders outside the traditional social partners to be successful. To this end the NTC has planned a Transitional Workshop scheduled to be held on April 5, 2019 with the view to

    review the current legislation that must be amended/repealed to facilitate the transition

    establish the rules of the Industrial Side of the Supreme Court to ensure that the present rules/proceedings of the Industrial Tribunal remain in effect.          

In addition to the approximate sixteen projects emanating out of the NTC’s Strategic Plan, I am told that Council members will, over the next few months, also have a renewed focus on the Dispute Resolution Protocol. This mechanism, which is designed for urgent intervention by NTC Executives to discuss and resolve disputes that may have national implications, has proven to be successful and has resulted in two new Collective Bargaining Agreements being executed and the settlement of a number of longstanding issues. 

In June 2019 the International Labour Organization will celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the International Labour Convention. The celebrations surrounding this historic landmark will include fulfilling one of the fundamental issues from the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda which is that all member states must be committed to a principle of “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.”    

Fellow delegates, as you deliberate over the next few hours on the plans of the Council for the next twelve months, I wish to again express the Government’s commitment to the concept of tripartism and reaffirm my personal commitment to working with the members of the Council to provide the legislative and administrative support to achieve the goals and objectives in the 2018 – 2021 Strategic Plan.        

On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, I again congratulate the NTC members for the excellent work that is being done to promote and sustain the tripartite system in The Bahamas and hereby declare the 2019 Annual General Assembly open.

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