General assembly thirty-eighth regular session




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REPORT OF THE XV INTER-AMERICAN
CONFERENCE OF MINISTERS OF LABOR

(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 3, 2008)

THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
HAVING SEEN:
Resolutions CIDI/RES. 181 (XI-O/06), “Report of the XIV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor”; CIDI/RES. 202 (XII-O/07), “XV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor”; and CIDI/RES. 207 (XIII-O/08), “Report of the XV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor”; and
Resolutions AG/RES. 2205 (XXXVI-O/06), “Report of the XIV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor,” and AG/RES. 2316 (XXXVII-O/07), “XV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor”;
CONSIDERING:
That the XV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor (IACML) was held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from September 11 to 13, 2007, with the technical support of the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development (SEDI), and that at that meeting Trinidad and Tobago was elected Chair pro tempore;
That the dialogue among the Ministers of Labor of the Americas was centered on the topic “Making Decent Work Central to Social and Economic Development”; and
That the XV IACML adopted the Declaration and the Plan of Action of Port of Spain 2007, which are contained in the Final Report of the XV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor (TRABAJO/doc.26/07), along with the Joint Declaration of the Trade Union Technical Advisory Council (COSATE) and the Business Technical Advisory Committee on Labor Matters (CEATAL), and the reports of Working Groups 1 and 2 of the Conference;
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT:
That the Ministers of Labor at the XV IACML analyzed and advanced policies and measures centered on the promotion of decent work in the Americas and addressed issues related to labor and employment as key elements of social and economic development in the context of globalization; and
That meetings of the advisory bodies to the IACML–COSATE and CEATAL–were held during the XV IACML; and

RECOGNIZING:


That, at the Fourth Summit of the Americas, the Heads of State and Government acknowledged the important contributions of the ministries of labor to achieving its objectives of “Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance” and to promoting decent work and social and labor policies that encourage investment and economic growth with equity; and
That, in the Plan of Action of the Fourth Summit of the Americas, the Heads of State and Government pledged to “promote an inclusive social tripartite and transparent dialogue as an instrument for the proposition of policies and resolution of labor conflicts in order to strengthen the representation and stimulate the participation of unions and of employer organizations in the formulation and implementation of national policies for the promotion of decent work,”
RESOLVES:


  1. To endorse the Declaration and the Plan of Action of Port of Spain 2007, adopted by the Ministers of Labor of the Hemisphere at the XV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor (IACML), which form part of this resolution.




  1. To urge the Ministers of Labor to continue contributing to the attainment of the objectives established in the Declaration of Port of Spain 2007 of the XV IACML and to carrying out its Plan of Action, in addition to helping develop and achieve the labor-related objectives set by the Heads of State and Government at the Fourth Summit of the Americas in the Declaration of Mar del Plata and its Plan of Action.




  1. To take note of the offer made by the Government of the Argentine Republic to host the XVI IACML in 2009.




  1. To instruct the General Secretariat, through the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development (SEDI), to work together with labor sector officials to implement the activities and agreements adopted in the Declaration and the Plan of Action of Port of Spain 2007, and to periodically report on this process to the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI).




  1. To request CIDI to report to the General Assembly at its thirty-ninth regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.

DECLARATION OF PORT OF SPAIN 2007


MAKING DECENT WORK CENTRAL TO SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
(Adopted at the closing session, held on September 13, 2007)



  1. We, the Ministers participating in the XV Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor (IACML) of the Organization of American States (OAS), met in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, from September 11 to 13, 2007, to analyze and advance policies and measures centered on the promotion of decent work in the Americas and to address issues related to labor and employment as key elements of social and economic development in the context of globalization.




  1. We note that this IACML is the first one to follow up on the employment and labor aspects of the Declaration and the Plan of Action of the Fourth Summit of the Americas, held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, in November 2005, which adopted as its theme “Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance.” At the Fourth Summit of the Americas, the Heads of State and Government recognized the vital contributions of ministries of labor to the achievement of the Summit objectives and mandated us to move forward the priorities, decisions, and commitments that they considered urgent and necessary. In this framework we will continue working toward implementation of the Summit objectives with the goal of improving the living conditions of all workers in the Americas. We welcome the offer by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and its subsequent acceptance, to host the Fifth Summit of the Americas in 2009.




  1. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the principles of inter-American solidarity and cooperation enshrined in the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS). We recognize that equality of opportunity, the elimination of extreme poverty, equitable distribution of wealth and income, and the full participation of their peoples in decisions relating to their own development are basic objectives of integral development.




  1. We reaffirm our support for the Inter-American Democratic Charter, adopted by the OAS in Lima, Peru, in September 2001. We support resolution AG/RES. 2327 (XXXVII-O/07), “Promotion and Strengthening of Democracy: Follow-up to the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” adopted by the OAS General Assembly in June 2007.




  1. We reaffirm our willingness to collaborate in the effort to draw up the Social Charter of the Americas and its Plan of Action, being drafted by the Joint Working Group of the Permanent Council and the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI) pursuant to mandates received from the OAS General Assembly. In view of this, we will take into consideration the contributions of employers’ and workers’ representatives through the Trade Union Technical Advisory Council (COSATE) and the Business Technical Advisory Committee on Labor Matters (CEATAL).




  1. We recall the Declaration of Mexico of the XIV IACML, held in Mexico City in September 2005, in which we committed to advance a labor agenda in our region promoting dignified employment, placing the person at the center of all economic activities, and stressed that the future of our democracies depends in large measure upon their capacity to generate productive, high-quality, decent, and sustainable jobs. We also recognized the importance of implementing the labor commitments expressed by the Heads of State and Government in the Declarations of the Summits of the Americas, with special attention to the vital objectives of economic growth with equity for reducing poverty and enhancing social development and democratic governance.




  1. We reaffirm our commitment to respect, promote, and realize the principles in respect of the fundamental rights contained in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, adopted in 1998, and its Follow-up, which cover the following areas: (a) freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining; (b) the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor; (c) the effective abolition of child labor; and (d) the elimination of discrimination in respect of employment and occupation. We will promote the effective enforcement of our national labor laws, regulations, and standards so as to uphold these principles. We recognize the vital role of democratic systems including labor justice systems in the promotion and application of labor laws. We support the strengthening of labor dispute mechanisms to provide for more expeditious, effective, and transparent resolution of labor disputes.




  1. We recognize the importance of ensuring that all children have access to education as a foundation for their development. We will continue to take measures to fulfill the commitment made by our governments at the Fourth Summit of the Americas to eradicate by 2020, at the latest, the worst forms of child labor and reduce the number of children who work in violation of national laws.




  1. We will develop national policies and programs to eliminate forced labor before 2010 in accordance with other initiatives established in the Plan of Action of the Fourth Summit of the Americas.




  1. We recognize that full and productive employment and decent work are central to sustainable social and economic development. Therefore, we propose to make them main objectives in the planning and formulation of social and economic policies and, at the national level, to integrate government policies on labor, employment, and income with economic, social, educational, financial, trade, and investment policies. Similarly, we commit to supporting the adoption of policies that promote job opportunities, competitiveness, productivity, trade, and investment. We also encourage governments and other relevant institutions, where appropriate, to consider the impact of their policies on full employment and decent work for all, taking into account the challenges and opportunities of promoting decent work in the context of globalization.




  1. We call for closer strategic alliances between ministries of labor and other ministries. Likewise, we highlight the role of information and communication technologies (ICTs) as a tool for increasing coordination among those ministries in order to implement integrated policies.




  1. We note the significant role of labor policies, regulations, and institutions in promoting decent work. We commit to promoting the revision and effective application of our labor legislation, and policies, as needed, through tripartite and other mechanisms for broad social dialogue with the relevant actors to contribute to the generation of decent work and the enhancement of productivity.




  1. We will continue our efforts to strengthen the capacities of ministries of labor in formulating and implementing labor and employment policies and enforcing national labor laws and standards. We will focus special attention on strengthening our labor administration systems, in particular the labor inspection functions.




  1. We reaffirm our commitment and support to the strengthening and modernization of ministries of labor through national actions complemented at the regional level that take into account the important role of horizontal cooperation and technical assistance. In this regard, we will continue strengthening the Inter-American Network for Labor Administration (RIAL), created to strengthen the institutional and human capacities of the ministries of labor and act as an integrating mechanism for the dissemination of knowledge and experience among those ministries.




  1. We reaffirm our conviction of the role that decent work has in improving the living conditions of the peoples of our Hemisphere and their participation in the benefits of development. We recommit to pursuing actions related to the four strategic objectives of the Decent Work Agenda: promotion of fundamental principles and rights at work, employment, social protection, and social dialogue.




  1. We welcome the Decade of Promoting Decent Work, which was declared at the ILO Sixteenth American Regional Meeting (May 2006). We consider the Hemispheric Agenda for generating decent work through the Decent Work Country Programs to be an important and welcome initiative, allowing each country to determine the goals it is in a position to reach, according to its own realities and national priorities, incorporating tripartite formulation, validation, and follow-up mechanisms.




  1. We also recognize the invaluable assistance provided by the ILO for promotion of the Decent Work Agenda in the Caribbean through the hosting of the Tripartite Caribbean Employment Forum (TCEF) in October 2006, as well as to the High-Level Group on Employment of MERCOSUR (GANEmple) to develop a MERCOSUR Strategy for Growth with Employment, among others. We support the development of Decent Work Country Programs as provided, in general terms, by the Hemispheric Agenda and, in particular, by the Tripartite Declaration and Plan of Action for Realizing the Decent Work Agenda in the Caribbean.




  1. We note and commend the high-level international support for the promotion of decent work as a development issue at the thirty-fifth regular session of the OAS General Assembly (June 2005); the 2005 World Summit (September 2005); and the Fourth European Union–Latin American and Caribbean Summit (May 2006).




  1. We recall and support the High-Level Segment of the Substantive Session of the United Nations Economic and Social Council held in Geneva, Switzerland, in July 2006, devoted to promoting the creation of an environment at the national and international levels conducive to generating full and productive employment and decent work for all.




  1. We recognize that the future of our peoples rests in the hands of the youth and that there is a window of opportunity for young people to contribute to the development of our societies. We watch with concern the magnitude of youth unemployment, the high number of youth that neither study nor work, and their concentration in precarious jobs. Therefore we will promote programs and projects that will enhance employability, equal opportunity, entrepreneurship, and employment creation for youth including through education, integral human development, training, and lifelong learning that meet labor market requirements. We will also redouble our efforts to achieve the Fourth Summit of the Americas commitment to reduce youth unemployment and significantly lower the percentage of young people that neither study nor work.




  1. We recall the Declaration and the Plan of Action of the Fourth Meeting of Ministers of Education of the Hemisphere, held in Scarborough, Trinidad and Tobago, in August 2005, which noted that the greatest opportunity to create local and regional capacity for innovation, creativity, and increased productivity is a well-educated, well-informed, and democratic workforce. We therefore reiterate our support for policies that promote lifelong learning, giving priority to the coordination of employment services, education, and continuous professional training systems, using ICTs, with the goal of generating the necessary technical skills of workers that respond to the demands of the labor market and of supporting workers in their search for labor opportunities. Additionally, we support the ministers of education in their efforts to disseminate student assessment results and other useful information about our education systems. We commit to working closely with the ministers of education and in public-private partnerships to develop programs and actions to achieve these goals.




  1. We agree that equal access to employment opportunities is essential for the development of our countries. We recognize that gender is a crosscutting issue and strive to incorporate a gender perspective into the development of all policies, programs, and projects aimed at creating decent work, considering the Inter-American Program on the Promotion of Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality, adopted by the OAS General Assembly in Guatemala in June 1999. We will continue to promote gender equality at work and we note the Declaration of Mar del Plata of the Fourth Summit of the Americas, which calls for combating gender-based discrimination and for the promotion of equal opportunities to eliminate existing disparities between men and women in the working world. We note further the resolution on the promotion of sustainable enterprises adopted at the 96th Session of the ILO International Labour Conference in 2007, which indicated that “women’s economic empowerment is crucial for sustainable societies. It requires equal access to entrepreneurship opportunities, financial services and labour markets.”




  1. We will promote crosscutting policies to fight all forms of discrimination in the workplace and ensure equal access to the labor market, including for vulnerable groups. In this regard, we commit to promoting actions for prevention and raising awareness, in the area of our competencies, directed against violence and harassment in the workplace.




  1. We recognize that the productive capacity of our workforce is hindered by HIV/AIDS and chronic noncommunicable diseases including but not limited to cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. We commit to promoting the development and implementation of policies that will help reduce discrimination in the workplace against workers with HIV/AIDS. Further we support policies that reduce the incidence of HIV/AIDS and chronic noncommunicable diseases.




  1. We reaffirm our commitment to promote and protect the human rights of migrant workers and their families noting, inter alia, resolution AG/RES. 2289 (XXXVII-O/07), “The Human Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families,” adopted by the OAS General Assembly in Panama in 2007, and the “Inter-American Program for the Promotion and Protection of the Human Rights of Migrants, Including Migrant Workers and Their Families,” adopted by the OAS General Assembly in the United States in 2005. We note the convening of the United Nations High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in September 2006, which sought to identify appropriate ways and means to maximize the developmental benefits of international migration and to reduce its negative impacts. We reaffirm that all migrants, regardless of their immigration status, should be accorded full protection of their human rights and full observance of the labor laws applicable to them, including the principles and labor rights embodied in the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work. In addition, we will promote decent work for migrant workers in the context of the Declaration of Nuevo León and will increase inter-American cooperation and dialogue in accordance with paragraphs 26, 27, and 28 of the Declaration of Mar del Plata, adopted at the Fourth Summit of the Americas.




  1. We endorse the position on the informal economy expressed in the Declaration of Mexico of the XIV IACML and at the Fourth Summit of the Americas. The heterogeneous and multidimensional nature of the informal economy poses a challenge in the design and formulation of policies; therefore we consider it essential to promote research in this regard. We will renew our efforts to promote, in collaboration with the competent institutions, a regulatory framework that facilitates the establishment of new enterprises, the promotion of an entrepreneurial spirit, the creation of formal enterprises, and the incorporation of informal enterprises into the formal economy, in order to reduce significantly the levels of unregistered work without social protection.




  1. We acknowledge the need for social protection systems that provide broad coverage in our countries and for stronger social security systems aimed at guaranteeing comprehensive benefit coverage. In this regard, and in the area of our competencies, we will contribute to the development of policies that enhance our social security systems with a view to balancing the need for an efficient labor market with effective protection and to providing for transparency, efficiency, and accountability in the collection of contributions and the distribution of social security benefits.




  1. We will pursue programs to promote decent work and facilitate the re-entry of workers into the world of work, in the wake of natural disasters.




  1. Taking into account the Plan of Action of the Fourth Summit of the Americas and the conclusions of the Second Hemispheric Workshop on Occupational Health and Safety, held in El Salvador in May 2006, we commit to the promotion of regulations and codes on occupational safety and health to ensure the inclusion of measures to promote a culture of prevention and control of occupational hazards in the Hemisphere.

  2. We are committed to policies that facilitate the development of productive and competitive enterprises. In this regard, we will take into account the resolution on the promotion of sustainable enterprises, adopted at the 96th Session of the ILO International Labour Conference in 2007. We recognize the contribution of sustainable enterprises, including small and micro enterprises and other production units, to poverty reduction, wealth creation, and employment generation. We will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for the establishment and growth of these and other enterprises giving special attention to those involved in the production of traditional and indigenous products.




  1. We follow with interest the development of the different processes of regional and subregional integration as well as bilateral and multilateral free-trade agreements in the Hemisphere. We understand that it is important to cooperate, within the limits of our competencies, to improve the understanding of the labor dimension, the cooperation mechanisms contained therein, and the impact on employment of these processes.




  1. We recognize that social dialogue, collective bargaining, and tripartism are essential elements for building and promoting democratic and inclusive societies. In this regard, we remain committed to strengthening them with the aim of effectively promoting decent work and consolidating a culture of compliance. In this regard, we encourage the strengthening of unions and employers’ organizations for effective participation in these processes.




  1. We commend COSATE and CEATAL for their continued support to the IACML. We value, as an important step forward, the participation of private-sector and workers’ representatives in OAS activities, especially those related to the General Assembly and the Summit of the Americas, in accordance with resolutions adopted by the OAS General Assembly in June 2006 and June 2007.




  1. We agree to follow up on the implementation of this Declaration.

WE RESOLVE TO:


A. Implement a Plan of Action based on this Declaration, on the Declaration and the Plan of Action of the Fourth Summit of the Americas, and on the work of the XIV IACML, and to dedicate the necessary resources to this end.
B. Establish two Working Groups as follows:
Working Group 1: “Decent work as an instrument for development and democracy in the context of globalization”; and
Working Group 2: “Strengthening the capacities of ministries of labor to respond to the challenges of promoting decent work in the context of globalization.”


  1. Encourage countries of the Hemisphere to intensify cooperation, to share knowledge, experiences, and achievements in the area of employment and labor, and to document best practices in promoting decent work for all.




  1. Intensify the dialogue and cooperation with regional and international institutions that have a role to play in the promotion of decent work in the Hemisphere, in particular members of the Joint Summit Working Group, the Organization of American States (OAS), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), the Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN), the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the Andean Development Corporation (CAF), the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Institute for Connectivity in the Americas (ICA), and the World Bank, among others.




  1. Organize the XVI Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor in Argentina in 2009.



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