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Nov 21, 2017

Chamber, Unions, I.L.O. Talk Social Dialogue

For the next two days, representatives of both the employers and employees in Belize will meet at the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s office complex here on Coney Drive. Among the topics of discussion is social dialogue – the communication and discussion between the Government, employers and business organizations, and labour that drives the country. The key to national development, according to both the Chamber and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize, is to find the balance to both speak truth to power and to offer the best solutions. News Five’s Aaron Humes reports.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

The Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the National Trade Union Congress of Belize are often antagonistic, representing as they do the country’s employers and employees, respectively. But these days they often work on the same side, as the Government occasionally lashes out at both of them over some press release one or the other have made on national issues. Today, both agreed that as part of the ongoing social dialogue in the country, it is important not to be seen primarily as the opposition, but as equally important to the national conversation.

 

Kim Aikman

Kim Aikman, C.E.O., Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry

“The Chamber is a membership organization, so we speak out on issues affecting members. We do not get involved in partisan politics; when we come out with an issue, there’s a process that we follow: we would get the feedback and input from our members, and we go through that process to ensure that we put forward the voice of the majority of our members. We are a democratic organization and we recognize that we will not in any way or form give the opinion that every single member would be comfortable with, but we have to go with the majority.”

 

Floyd Neal

Floyd Neal, President, National Trade Union Congress of Belize

“We need to realize we are all on this boat together, and we need to play a role. There will be times when we won’t agree, but that is no excuse not to have a conversation and see if we could arrive at a consensus that would be a win-win-win – the tripartite approach, the Government, employers and workers. But we need to be a part of the conversation, we need to view things in terms of our common interests – we can’t withdraw. When we have a problem, we will state as best as we could what it is is the difficulty we are having, but we need to try to be part of the conversation, to arrive at solutions so we all win. Losing is not an option, really.”

 

Fortunately for both the Chamber and N.T.U.C.B., they break bread together on a number of statutory boards and other established structures. The key, according to the International Labour Organization’s Vanessa Phala, is to bring everyone together without rancor and on the same page.

 

Vanessa Phala

Vanessa Phala, Senior Specialist, Employers’ Activities, International Labour Organization

“It’s about consultation; it’s about engagement; it’s about negotiation. Coming together to discuss and to engage on pertinent issues and to reach a consensus so that Government can lead policy development on areas where there’s consensus.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

 

The conference continues on Wednesday with a look at business continuity after natural disasters.

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