Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley says issues that forced Caribbean workers to rise up nearly a century ago still exist and urged the international community to collarbone further for the development of the rights of workers.
“It is against this background that my government and the region to which we belong has held dearly to the principles that those things which have allowed us to evolve as modern nation states from the 1930’s when our workers rose up are as relevant today as they were in the 1930’s,” Mottley said in an address to the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Wednesday night.
Speaking on the theme “When multilateralism is taken away what are we left with and who is left to protect us,” Mottley, the first woman Prime Minister of Barbados, said that the regional countries had called for equality, fairness and equal opportunities.
“Have we completed the task/? No. Are there still issues that face us? Yes,” she said, adding that she had travelled to Switzerland “to confront some of those issues, cognisant that we do so at the very time that the world is prepared to jettison multilateralism and to jettison the voice of most of us who want to finish the journey and to complete the task.
‘We are not over and we have not yet completed the protection of women, who continue in many instances across this world to face conditions of unequal pay for equal work and who regrettably have been the subject more often than not of violence and discrimination in the work place.”
The Barbados leader said her administration would be moving to fulfil its obligations regarding the protection of domestic workers.
“We have come to commit once again because we recognise that in our own case, tens of thousands of our own citizens were raised, were natured, were born to domestic workers and irrespective of their circumstances of birth have risen to make significant contributions, not only to our own country, but indeed to regional and international affairs,” she said.
In her wide ranging address, Mottley urged the international community to do more to protect the environment, noting that countries of the Caribbean have felt the burden of the impact of climate change.
“Within our own region, we have seen more than two-thirds of the population of Montserrat leave because of a volcano.
“In our region, two years ago we saw the whole island of Barbuda evacuated because of a hurricane. We have seen the country of Dominica lose 226 per cent of its GDP (gross domestic product)and significant dislocation of its population due to two hurricanes two years ago.
“We speak from event to event and from institution to institution and even though politics is the art of repetition, it appears that neither politics nor morality is having any meaningful impact on those whose actions and voices can make that significant difference to the climate difficulties that we did today,” she told the delegates.
She said that there is also the recognition that “the world is only prepared to protect the most powerful who have been the one who have caused the greatest contribution to the rate of degradation to our climate
”But it is also the global insecurity, it is also the continued willingness to believe that it is okay to move capital but that it is not okay for people to move and hence mass migration of labour is unacceptable to a world whether for xenophobic, racial of other reasons.
“It is okay for a world to accept that these combined issues along with the rapid pace at which the technological pace is taking place can all have implications on people without states or institutions intervening to counterbalance the implications they are having for ordinary workers”.
Mottley said she believed that when the ILO sought to look at the whole question of the future of work it did so against the background “that we do not live in a world that in any way would resemble the world of 30, 40 years ago, far less a century ago.
“To that extent, therefore it is absolutely critical for us to plan effectively to ensure that there are no unintended consequences to our population in particular ordinary workers as we go through this fast pace multipolar changing world,” she added.