|Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo presenting a token of appreciation to the outgoing ILO Director-General, Juan Somovia during the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference in Switzerland today.|
Social protection must not be seen as a handout, but as an investment.
Minister of Labour and Social Security, Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, made this declaration today, while revealing some of Barbados’ national growth and poverty reduction strategies, at the 101st Session of the International Labour Conference held in Switzerland.
Addressing Ministers of Labour from around the world and a high-level International Labour Organisation (ILO) delegation, she emphasised: "Social protection is designed to provide a cushion during the crisis and a springboard for a better future… this must not be seen as a handout, but as an investment."
She told those gathered that "Barbados has a well-developed programme designed to alleviate poverty, encourage human resource development, and encourage greater labour market participation, employability and productivity."
Outlining that the island’s social protection measures included low-income housing, free health care and education, welfare provision for food, rent, and subsistence, the Labour Minister said: "We provide income replacement to the sick, women on maternity leave, the disabled and the unemployed and we recently extended the unemployment benefit from 26 weeks to 40 weeks."??
She added that Barbados had recently increased the minimum wage for shop assistants, a group she described as one of the most vulnerable in the country.
Moreover, Dr. Byer Suckoo noted that the Barbados Country Assessment of Living Conditions 2010 had indicated there was a strong link between employment and poverty, which she pointed out showed that the poor were less likely to be employed and the employed poor less likely to be employed full-time.
While acknowledging that the island had acquired High Human Development status and had already achieved several of the Millennium Development Goals, the Labour Minister disclosed: "Barbados, therefore, now proposes a national growth and poverty reduction strategy and the elaboration of a national social policy framework.
"Our approach must build on the synergies between social protection measures and other national development priorities.?? Such policy coherence is emphasised in Barbados’ Decent Work Country Programme and is a collaboration between social and economic entities."?? She further stated that social and economic development policies must be viewed as mutually inclusive.