Dominica: PM Roosevelt Skerrit chairs CARICOM council meeting with Labour Ministers

Prime Minister of Dominica- Roosevelt Skerrit, has chaired a Special Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) with Labour Ministers of member states.

Roseau, Dominica: Prime Minister of Dominica- Roosevelt Skerrit, has chaired a Special Meeting of the CARICOM Council for Human and Social Development (COHSOD) with Labour Ministers of member states.

The discussion is focused on the strengthening of policies and legislation to govern labour migration and mobility in the Caribbean. Dominica continues to advocate for the full implementation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) to reduce barriers and allow CARICOM citizens to move and work freely within the region.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Energy, Barbara Dailey is participating in the meeting, while Minister for Labour, Public Service Reform, Social Partnership, Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development, Miriam Blanchard has joined on with her colleague Labour Ministers from Georgetown, Guyana. 

During the meeting, PM Roosevelt Skerrit expressed pleasure to be engaging their regional Ministers of Labour at this opportune time. Having reviewed the meeting’smeeting’s agenda, with its emphasis on social justice in the Caribbean, he agreed with the CARICOM Secretariat that this dialogue would have been well placed immediately following the ILO session.   

He said, “In my view, your discussions over the past two days, have a direct correlation to the matters before us this afternoon, in particular – – the strengthening of policies and legislation to govern labour migration and mobility in the Caribbean. A regional target that will no doubt, influence social justice among our people.”

PM Roosevelt Skerrit further said that as a region, they have been advocating for a labour system that would reduce or eradicate barriers and promote cooperation in areas such as trade and security. Many years ago, they all agreed that a Caribbean Single Market and Economy would give us that competitive advantage. 

It was also agreed that the CSME would ensure optimal accessibility to competent human resources and allow citizens greater access to better educational and training opportunities, higher-paying jobs, and, ultimately, more rewarding lives. 

On July 4, 2023, CARICOM will celebrate 50 years as a regional grouping, a milestone which will force the countries to reflect on achievements and to assess whether they have remained true to their ideals. PM Roosevelt Skerrit said, “I am sure that the CSME will have its share of scrutiny in the months ahead. I, therefore, felt it appropriate to update ourselves on the status of, and address some key issues to include.”

He further outlined some key issues which needed to address: 

  1. The proposed Model CARICOM Skilled Nationals Act and progress on harmonizing or updating legislation as it relates to the categories specifically identified in the Revised Treaty; as well as the inclusion of the newer categories.
  2. The expansion of the eligible categories: PM Roosevelt Skerrit said that he has realized that the final list of skilled personnel is not reflective of all of the categories already considered by the Community to move freely. “My understanding is that some states have delayed inclusion of proposed groups, while others have already adopted those categories of workers cleared to move freely. These include artisans; persons who have at least five CSEC passes and equivalent such as related technical and vocational qualifications; aviation personnel; and hospitality workers.”
  3. The establishment of a national infrastructure for the Caribbean Vocational Qualification (CVQ) in member states; the instituting of a Free Movement Desk and the Free Movement Committee; as well as the full implementation of the Protocol on Contingent Rights (which speaks to the entitlement of immediate dependents who are not CARICOM citizens.) 
  4. The status of the “Implementation of the Complaints Procedure;” as well as ‘‘Procedures on the refusal of entry of community nationals into Member States.”

 Along with that, the prime minister also listened to the questions of the attendees and participated in an open discussion on these issues and others as appropriate.  

He raised an important question which is: “Do we still share the vision of a Community that allows us as a region to remain competitive and position our people to optimize resources, benefit and share skillsets and enjoy social and economic mobility?”

PM Roosevelt Skerrit asserted that Dominica is clear in its conviction that a fully functional CSME is an essential component of regional integration, and they remain committed to the advancement of the free movement of skills within CARICOM. 

PM Roosevelt Skerrit believes that all member states within the grouping are similarly dedicated to the cause because we recognize CSME is critical to driving the development they all are working so tirelessly to achieve. The reality is they must do more to allow citizens of CARICOM member states to move and work freely within the region. 

Despite these persistent challenges, PM Skerrit hopes their discussions this afternoon will provide renewed impetus so that they can map the way forward to facilitate the free movement of labour within their region. 

At this stage of implementation, they must agree on next steps: -. 

– Do we adopt a phased implementation of certain categories?  

– Do we propose that the approved skilled categories be expanded to include at least 50% of the eligible work force? or  

– Do we revisit the original decision of 2021, which called for member states to ratify and implement full free movement in an expeditious manner?

While extending full support to CSME, PM Roosevelt Skerrit said, “I am also hopeful that our deliberations will guide my recommendations to the 45th Session of Heads and influence decisive action to regularize and resolve outstanding issues related to the full implementation of the CSME. I look forward to the deliberations and your contributions and recommendations on advancing the Free Movement of Skilled CARICOM Nationals in the CSME.”

Anglina Byron

Published by
Anglina Byron

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