Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 3rd 2015 Contents BG4 COVER STORY
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt DECEMBER 3 • 2015
C laudia Coenjaerts, director of the Inter-
national Labour Organisation (ILO s) Decent
Work Team and Office for the Caribbean,
has said that labour unity is important for
social dialogue and also in building a com-
Given the state of T&T s energy-based
economy she believes there is the need for
the different stakeholders to engage in dia-
"If there is no unified voice from labour it
is difficult to get things done. Whether we
are really at the stage where we feel completely
ready to sit around the table and let go of
differences for the greater good, to let go of
some of the cultural and political and historical
history, I am not certain and time will have
to show. We all know that social dialogue is
important but we only know it at critical
times," she told the Business Guardian two
Fridays ago at the ILO s Office, Stanmore
She said it is not only T&T but globally
there are a lot of challenges and changes.
"Some of the bigger issues like climate
change and the issue of skills training are fac-
tors that might be easier for labour and the
private sector to have a common position.
That can help to build trust as it builds a
She said bad industrial relations will not
"Decent work and productivity really rein-
force each other. When the conditions for
work are good, workers produce more. It is
good for business and, if businesses do well,
it is better for decent work. It is important
that we are careful not to oversimplify the
relations between industrial relations and pro-
ductivity and we undertake further analysis.
Just look at the time it takes to reach to work.
It all depends on how much driving time you
need. Do workers have flexible time?"
She also asked when young people graduate
from schools and universities if they are they
ready for the world of work.
"Maybe we missed something in our edu-
cation system. Maybe we need to look at pro-
ductivity way beyond just labour and man-
agement relations. I understand the
Government is going to reactivate its produc- tivity council. That is very important. Improv-
ing productivity involves a range of actions.
These things take a long time."
She said competitiveness is multifaceted.
"If T&T wants to improve competitiveness,
it must make more space for innovation and
improve productivity. Some people think this
involves keeping wages low and that is a mis-
conception. It is about putting productivity
in a bigger picture so you can see that good
wages are conducive to productivity. We need
to come to a paradigm shift on how we see
She added there are a lot of changes world
wide and T&T must grab the opportunities.
"Certainly the Caricom strategy has iden-
tified climate change as important for the
region. There must be a paradigm shift as
greening the economy can lead to lead to new
opportunities for jobs and wealth creation."
Coenjaerts, who is a Belgian national, has
been working with the ILO for the last 20
years. She pointed out that the term of the
position as director of one of ILO s sub-regional
offices is between three
to five years.
She said that the ILO
calls its office in T&T, the
ILO Decent Work Team
and Office for the
"We cover the Eng-
lish-speaking and Dutch-
which means 13 countries
and nine territories. We
are not only a Port-of-
Spain office like the
UNDP or some other UN
agency. It is a country
office that has a total of
eight international spe-
cialists and they spe-
cialise in different areas
from skills to entrepre-
neurship to labour
administration. It tries to
cover the decent work
agenda. I am the director
of the team."
She said the ILO s
"Decent Work Agenda"
is a term that captures
four pillars, one of which
is creating jobs.
"Here we look at how
we can create economies
that can generate oppor-
tunities for investments,
opportunities for job cre-
ation, for skills develop-
ment. Without job cre-
ation there can be no
Decent work and
reinforce each other.
When the conditions
for work are good,
more. It is good for
business and, if
businesses do well,
it is better
for decent work.
Continued on Page 5
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