Published On: Wed, Nov 20th, 2013

Why Kolaborativo was formed around the ILO Model for Tripartite Social Dialogue?

Governor's PalaceWILLEMSTAD - Eleven years ago there was an uprising because the government had frustrated its social partners as it did not listen to what the unions and commerce were saying was important to the people.   The unions occupied the building of the Bestuurscollege and negotiations followed to create a tripartite dialogue platform.  In the summer of 2003, a protocol was signed by government, commerce and labor so that there would always be a national tripartite dialogue platform to insure that the island would never again have this level of confrontation.

ILO Model

Government, Commerce and Labor worked for months to arrive at the decision that the International Labor Office (ILO) conventions, standards and recommendations would guide the way for the future.

ILO is the only "tripartite" United Nations agency.  Within the ILO, governments, employers and workers are represented on an equal footing and with full independence.  They are seen as essential components of the world of work, and their representatives come together to discuss and adopt, not only labor standards, but also policies and programs that will lead to sustainable economic and social conditions within the country according to the fundamental conventions and principles agreed to over many years.  Over 121 countries follow these standards.

Further, tripartite social dialogue is an important pillar of the ILO Decent Work Strategy.  Kolaborativo used these strategies to build the foundation of the Curacao Master Plan in 2006, and the Labor Force Development Plan that followed in 2008.

In 2008 ILO came forth with the Social Justice Declaration that contributes to social justice, sustainable development, economic progress, good quality jobs, and the democratization of social and economic policies.  Kolaborativo is built on these principles.  The stakeholders have fought for social justice and have utilized the Transparency International standards and survey instruments to measure the quality of social justice and corruption on Curacao, beginning in 2004.

One of the main priorities of ILO that Kolaborativo has worked hard to maintain is to make, and to approach work through tripartite structures that have balanced and equal representation.  Commerce and Labor organizations have a strong commitment to strengthening the capacity of workers' organizations and employers' organizations to support their members and to inform them so they can influence effective socio-economic policies, and promote sound, consistent industrial relations through effective dialogue.

Through various local trainings and workshops, participants have learned to utilize data to drive decision-making and have adopted world best practice for tripartite dialogue.  Kolaborativo has borrowed from the most successful economies.  They have used the Millennium Development Goals, the ILO Declaration on Social Justice and Fair Globalization to guide its investigations and recommendations over the years.  In fact, the Curaçao Master Plan, the Logistical Hub Plan, and the Labor Force Development Plan, the regulatory framework, corporate governance laws and structures all come from best practice recommendations of ILO, OECD, World Bank, and IMF. This is done in order to mitigate the negative effects of the rapidly changing global economy.

Over the 10 years Kolaborativo has adhered to these principles and will continue to advocate for the national tripartite dialogue platform where the stakeholders continue to take an active role in the participatory governance mechanisms that are indispensable for sustainable development to work well for all men and women, and for society as a whole.

Reinventing the wheel?

Now the stakeholders are confused and concerned that parallel structures, without the strong core of tripartism, are being introduced to create similar laws, structures, policies and procedures.  The wheel does not need to be reinvented.  The stakeholders are following the most representative and participatory structure for dialogue.  Why does the government want to side step the internationally recognized process that has led to the economic stability of other small island countries like Singapore, Barbados, Malta?

Since 2003, tripartite national dialogue has contributed to specific economic, social and good government policies:  the need for anti-corruption legislation, conflict of interest laws, nepotism and cronyism procedures, corporate governance laws, and whistle-blower laws.  Mutually agreed upon legislation was drafted with some being implemented.

Through large scale, countrywide national dialogue, the Curacao Master Plan was created to form a long-term sustainable development plan for economic progress, and the democratization of social and economic policies and plans. This was done to improve the quality of life for all the people of Curacao.

In 2008, the largest national dialogue was held regarding the Labor Force Development Plan and Policy Recommendations.  For six months, over 400 persons labored over this work in tripartite workgroups to come to an internationally recognized Labor Force Development Plan for the country of Curacao.  If adhered to, it would have led to the sustainable development, economic progress, good quality jobs and the democratization of social and economic policies that would put Curacao among the leading countries of the region and the world.

It is frustrating for the stakeholders and participants to see plans set aside because of the instability of the political system resulting in lack of continuity, lack of transparency, and the lack of implementation of urgently needed social and economic policies. This instability is leading to the erosion of our participatory democracy.

Over the past six months, the commerce and labor stakeholders of Kolaborativo have made on-going attempts to learn about the UNDP process, the expected outcomes, and the UNDP documents being created for the work of the UNDP on the island. The stakeholders are making these inquiries in an attempt to see what role Kolaborativo is to play.  To their disappointment, the stakeholders find that there is not an atmosphere of equality  (ILO dialogue processes: governments, employers and workers are represented on an equal footing and with full independence).

It is a pity that time will be spent, money will be spent, reports will be written. However, without true tripartite dialogue where the most representative partners are allowed to dialogue freely on an equal playing field, stakeholders will never own the economic and social reforms.  They will fail short term and the reports will be placed on the shelf, and the country will continue to lag behind the rest of the Kingdom, the region and the world.

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