The Government of Barbados is exploring areas of South South cooperation with our Latin American neighbours in an effort to promote better social conditions for persons living in this part of the hemisphere.

During a recent round of meetings held in Chile, Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo and some of her regional counterparts met to discuss the promotion of the "Decent Work" concept, as well as speak to the various ways in which they could work together to assist each other in recovering from the current economic crisis.

According to Dr. Byer Suckoo, in one meeting entitled Labour and Development Cooperation: CARICOM/Chile, held in Santiago, Barbados and Chile agreed to exchange technical assistance in the tourism, healthcare and education sectors.

"They are interested to hear how we have built tourism and keen to learn from us.?? They are [also] interested in technical cooperation on Education and Health.?? We looked at sharing technical expertise…look at Barbados, we have good results in education, good health care and we have done well in tourism," she explained, adding that Barbados would in turn draw on the positive experiences of Chile in those and other areas.

The Minister also noted that ways to address the issue of disengaged youth – young people who are neither working nor studying, was also explored.

Ministers in the region also had the opportunity to meet with the Director General of the International Labour Organisation, Juan Somavia, where more issues relevant to the region were discussed.

Chief among them was the rebuilding of Haiti and how the region could collectively and individually assist. Youth employment was also topical at that meeting, as well as efforts to improve the Occupational Safety and Health programmes in the region.?? Regarding the latter, Dr. Byer Suckoo opined that any programme in this area should involve equipping labour inspectors with the necessary tools to effectively carry out their job.

"I would suggest that part of such a programme should involve putting the necessary tools in the hands of labour inspectors.?? We as government have a responsibility to empower them with legislation and policy, but they need to have some tools that they can work with," the Minister pointed out.

??Barbados’ delegation attending the meeting also included trade unionist Sir Roy Trotman.????

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