By LETRE SWEETING
THE government yesterday signed two conventions concerning progress for persons with disabilities and gender-based violence and also launched one phase of the National Child Labour Policy.
The Department of Labour in conjunction with the National Tripartite Council (NTC) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) held a symposium for these events yesterday morning at the National Training Agency on Gladstone Road.
Labour and Immigration Minister Keith Bell who was at the symposium yesterday said, “We join with the ILO’s director general during the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women and the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence to ratify and implement the ILO Convention 190 and put an end to violence and harassment in the world of work.
“As the third Caribbean country to ratify this historic convention, the government of The Bahamas publicly commits to, one, recognise the right of everyone in the world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender based violence and harassment,” Mr Bell said.
“Secondly, (the government commits to) recognising that violence and harassment in the world of work can constitute a human rights violation or abuse. And that violence and harassment are threats to equal opportunities and are unacceptable and incompatible with decent work. Third, recognise the importance of a work culture based on mutual respect and dignity of the human being to prevent violence and harassment,” he said.
Mr Bell added, “We are also celebrating the fact that The Bahamas is also ratifying ILO Convention 159, which is the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Disabled Persons Convention. The NTC’s recommendation to ratify ILO 159 is a public acknowledgement of the importance that this Davis administration places on the disabled community in our nation.
“Our legislative seat of authority still remains inaccessible to disabled persons and I hope that we are able to correct that in this administration,” Mr Bell said.
“In The Bahamas, we are of the opinion that the ratification of ILO 159 along with the other international instruments available to our social partners will promote opportunities for persons with disabilities to gain a living through decent work in the Bahamian labour market,” Mr Bell said.
Meanwhile, Yolantha Yallop, assistant labour director and a member of the NTC who launched the implementation phase of the National Child Labour Policy at yesterday’s symposium, said it has been a long time coming.
“I would like to highlight three goals that are within the national policy, the first goal, to prevent and prohibit children from entering the labour market before the minimum age of employment with ways to report on instances and penalties for violators,” Mrs Yallop said.
“Goal two, to protect children, by withdrawing them from situations of child labour and unfortunately the worst forms of child labour. Goal three to increase public awareness emphasising the difference between child labour and acceptable work for children,” she said.
Mrs Yallop offered two examples of child labour in The Bahamas. “The packing boys in the food store (and) the children on the side of the road (selling merchandise). “What we have accepted to be honest as cultural norms is something we have to address,” she said.
On May 25, 1976, The Bahamas became a member of the ILO, which has 187 member states from every region of the world. The Bahamas joined the nations of the world in upholding the mission of the ILO, which involves bringing together governments, employers and worker representatives to set labour standards, develop policies and devise programmes to promote decent work for all.
In conjunction with the ILO Caribbean office, the NTC has accomplished several things over the past few years, including the establishment of the National Child Labour Policy, the development of a plan to establish a national productivity council and productivity legislation, the Second Generation Bahamas Decent Work Country programme and several other educational and training opportunities for Bahamians.