Highlights from Caribbean Workers’ Forum II (2021)

In September 2021, the college Cipriani College of Labour and Co-operative Studies (CCLCS) held the Second Biennial Caribbean Workers’ Forum Virtual Conference, this time in partnership with the Ministry of Labour (MOL), the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL), the Caribbean Office of the International Labour Organisation, Public Services International (PSI), and the Global Labour University (GLU).

The theme, “Re-imagining the New Normal” was penned against the backdrop of the Covid 19 pandemic. As part of the road to recovery, discussions on the post Covid world have been guided by the term “the New Normal” and this conference presented an opportunity for participants, practitioners, academics and government officials to explore and evaluate the multiple manifestations of this theme.

The conference was also designed for its audience to add to the debate and provide a research-based assessment of the extent of the potential for a paradigm shift in the “New Normal” as it affects the working people in the world of work and for the development of robust solutions to empower these working people. The four day (4) event was virtually held due to the imposition of national health protocols and restrictions to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Keynote plenary speakers included Dr. The Right Honourable Keith Mitchell, Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr. The Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Rafael Peels, Specialist in Workers’ Activities, International Labour Organisation.

There were a total of 65 presenters comprising of local, regionally and internationally recognized academics, trade unionists and activists including Dr Tyehimba Salandy (Trinidad), Dr Kai- Ann Skeete (Barbados), Dr Sarah Jay (Ireland), Professor Archana Prasad (India), Dr Sean Sweeney (New York), Dr Bruno Dobrusin (UK), Alana Dave (UK), Susan Hodge (Anguilla), Professor Nora Rathzel (Sweden), Dr Sacha Joseph Matthews (US), Dr Timothy Affonso (Trinidad), Winnifred Meeks (Jamaica), Victor Jones (Suriname), Maureen Chad Kalume (Kenya) and Elena Lorac (Dominican Republic), just to name a few.

This event attracted over 250 delegates per day across the Caribbean and international community on its virtual platform.

Objectives of the conference:

  1. To engage in a process of capacity building among workers and their representatives and organisations as they face a myriad of challenges, well exemplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  2. To develop new models of action based on evidence-based and data-driven development objectives for workers and their institutions.
  3. To advance the use of social dialogue among workers and their institutions, the private sector, government, academics, and other stakeholders in the search for solutions, based on fairness, equity and social justice, to the pressing issues facing Caribbean workers and society.
  4. To use the independent and rigorous inquiry to support workers, their institutions and other stakeholders.
  5. To contribute to increased awareness of the importance of social protection; deficiencies in regional social protection systems and to build dialogue on policies and actions that could be taken to close these deficiencies.