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ILO director wraps up first Caribbean visit

Published: 
Thursday, February 18, 2016
Employers’ Consultative Association of T&T (ECATT) CEO Joycelyn Francois-Opadeyi, left, ILO Regional Officer for Latin America and the Caribbean, Jose Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, Professor Karl Theodore of the Faculty of Social Sciences, UWI, ECATT vice chairman Neil Derrick and Natuc deputy general secretary Judy Charles, at the first meeting of the T&T Bipartite Forum at the Kapok Hotel. PHOTO: SHIRLEY BAHADUR

“Important discussions need to be had on how to diversify the economy and create new sources of growth and new engines of job creation,” said director of the International Labour Organization (ILO) for Latin America and the Caribbean, José Manuel Salazar-Xirinachs, during a two-day official visit to T&T.

During his first visit to the Caribbean since becoming director of the ILO Regional Office in June 2015, Salazar met with government officials including, Jennifer Baptiste-Primus, Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development; Frances Seignoret, Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign and Caricom Affairs, employers’ and workers’ representatives and UN officials.

Salazar-Xirinachs attended the first meeting of the Trinidad and Tobago bipartite forum with Claudia Coenjaerts, director of the ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean, held on Tuesday at the Kapok Hotel, St Clair.  The meeting was organized by the Employers’ Consultative Association of T&T (ECATT) and the National Trade Union Centre of T&T (Natuc), and supported by the ILO Office for the Caribbean under an EU-funded project.

“I was very pleased to participate in this bipartite dialogue, initiated by the employers’ and workers’ organizations of Trinidad and Tobago. The economic situation in the Caribbean is complex, as it is in many Latin American countries.  Trinidad and Tobago has been hit by the deceleration in the world economy, by the low price of oil, by the low prices of commodities and this dialogue between the social partners is absolutely essential. The Global Jobs Pact of the ILO negotiated by the tripartite partners in 2009, is very relevant now in this new crisis,” said Salazar-Xirinachs.

He highlighted the three priorities for the ILO’s work in the region: productive development policies for inclusive growth with more and better jobs; a regional strategy to promote the transition from the informal to the formal economy; and the respect and application of international labour standards and labour legislation.  

Salazar-Xirinachs first joined the ILO in 2005 as executive director of the ILO’s Employment Sector in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to joining the ILO, Salazar-Xirinachs served from 1998-2005 as director of the Trade Unit of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington. From 1997 to 1998 hes was Minister of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica, during which he presided over the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) process.