XI INTER-AMERICAN CONFERENCE OF MINISTERS OF LABOR
OEA/Ser.K/XII.11.1
TRABAJO/doc.5/98 Rev. 2
October 20-21, 1998, Viņa del Mar, Chile

 

PLAN OF ACTION

We, the Ministers of Labor of the Americas, meeting at Viņa del Mar, Chile, October 20 and 21, 1998, on the occasion of the Eleventh Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor of the Organization of American States, determined to promote the objectives of the Declaration of Viņa del Mar, reaffirm our commitment to carry out the following Plan of Action.

GLOBALIZATION OF THE ECONOMY AND ITS SOCIAL AND LABOR DIMENSIONS

The Ministries of Labor:

1) In the area of employment and the labor market

a) Shall make a special effort to identify new and innovative policies and procedures that will allow ministries to respond to the challenges stemming from the new structures and functions of labor markets, which result from the natural processes of adaptation of the organization of production and services in our countries and from the demands of economic integration and national and international competitiveness.

Special attention should be paid to the increased mobility of labor, both between and within sectors, stemming from the aforementioned processes; this phenomenon is producing changes in the pace and turnover periods of the labor force and different forms of work organization, among others.

b) Shall study the systems for determining remuneration levels which are also affected by the above-mentioned changes, paying special attention to identifying current practices in the region that have proven successful in guaranteeing an adequate and just relationship between workers' incomes and their level of productivity, quality, and professional training. Special attention should be given to collective bargaining experiences, considering its fundamental place in determining remuneration levels.

c) Shall undertake to identify conceptual, institutional, and operational designs for professional education and training systems, programs and activities in their countries, placing priority on identifying those policies that can harmoniously integrate the objectives of the public and private sectors, and that provide the appropriate incentives to encourage shared responsibility and funding mechanisms. Special attention should be given to identifying policies for the education and training of youth, women, migrants, persons with disabilities, minorities, and other vulnerable groups, those affected by restructuring and those working in the informal and other precarious sectors of the economy; workers in small businesses and micro-enterprises, and persons unemployed due to economic and technological change.

In addition, they shall encourage public and private systems of education and information on labor issues, with a view to facilitating the connection between the supply of and demand for jobs, and assist workers in selecting the training options best suited to finding employment. They shall also study systems for certifying professional skills in order to have relevant and uniform information on the characteristics and quality levels of the labor force that has completed professional education and training programs.

d) Shall examine, in accordance with the situation of each country, the possibility of establishing systems to provide economic assistance to unemployed workers, evaluating current experiences and paying special attention to their positive results as well as to the problems that have arisen, in light of international experience.

2) In the area of labor relations

a) Shall seek to extend the coverage of collective bargaining to the greatest possible number of sectors of the economy, in order to reach stable agreements between employers and workers that favor cooperation in the various areas of labor relations.

As in the areas of forms of work organization and employment regimes, the most appropriate modalities need to be found for the various situations that are emerging. It is also necessary to identify the most effective procedures in the area of collective bargaining, in the context of the legal, institutional, social, and economic characteristics of each country that make it possible to give most workers and employers access to adequate forms of collectively determining working conditions and employment. Special attention should be given to sectors that are increasingly characterized by temporary work, subcontracting, fixed-term work, part-time work, or by other forms that depart from permanent employment contracts, as they require collective bargaining mechanisms that respond to their particular conditions. The absence of regulations that are geared to these realities leads in many cases to the failure to ensure basic rights, to unilateral decisions that affect working conditions, and even to disputes that are aggravated by the lack of agreed-upon rules.

Similarly, ever mindful of the realities of each country, the implementation of certain forms of collective determination of wages and working conditions and employment in areas where this is possible and compatible with national institutional arrangements, is also to be recommended for the public sector.

We believe that economic integration and its benefits will undoubtedly be strengthened and supported to the extent that the guidelines set forth above are actively implemented, considering in particular the relevant criteria adopted in the Constitution and Conventions of the ILO.

b) Shall seek to promote organizations of workers and employers as an essential tool for achieving labor relations based on equity between the parties. This presupposes paying special attention, as appropriate, to formulating or improving norms that guarantee that parties participate in collective bargaining in firms or at other levels, on an equal footing. In particular, priority should be assigned to norms that make it possible to ensure access to the necessary information for more technical and cooperative action, respect for the freedom of association, protection for the rights of representation and autonomy set forth in national legislation, and in general the observance of the guidance that emanates from the Constitution and Conventions of the ILO on freedom of association and collective bargaining.

c) Shall develop initiatives aimed at establishing, or strengthening where they already exist, a wide variety of tripartite or bipartite social dialogue forums as may be appropriate at the national, sectoral, or regional levels, and based on the situation in each country. We believe that the legitimacy of the regional and international economic integration processes, as well as of the institutional and labor modernization that stem from them, will find its most solid foundation in social dialogue; consequently, we encourage the Ministries of Labor, Governments, and the social actors to give priority to social dialogue as an instrument of labor policy.

Similarly, at the regional level, entities such as the Consultative Forum on Economic and Social Matters of MERCOSUR, and similar ones that may be promoted in the framework of the hemispheric and sub-regional integration efforts under way, should be actively supported.

d) Shall promote alternative mechanisms for the resolution of labor disputes.

e) Shall provide background information on national practices, as well as on initiatives that would allow for the formulation of recommendations regarding judicial and procedural functions of labor courts.

3) In the area of social security

a) Shall be mindful of the need to modify the social security and retirement systems where they are not well suited to the characteristics of the new forms of work organization. As noted above, the growing expansion of temporary work, subcontracting, part-time work, fixed-term contracts, and other forms, such as self-employment and work in micro-enterprises, are usually not suited in various ways to the classic systems of social security, with obvious implications for the future of workers when they retire from the labor force. Thus, it is necessary to carefully examine these shortcomings and to take actions to correct them.

As a result of expanding economic and commercial trade in the countries, migratory flows in the Hemisphere have increased. To ensure that citizens are not excluded from social security plans as a result, it is suggested that governments study and design appropriate policies to meet these challenges.

 

MODERNIZATION OF THE STATE AND LABOR ADMINISTRATION: REQUIREMENTS AND CHALLENGES

The Ministries of Labor:

1) In the area of the functions and tasks of the Ministries of Labor

a) Shall seek to modernize their administration, so as to adequately carry out the tasks in their area of competence. In this regard, we reiterate what was already approved at the Tenth Conference and what was suggested by the working groups it created. In particular, it seems to be fundamental to insist on the importance of the Ministries participating actively in the economic and social policy decisions by Governments, so as to bridge the gap between economic and social matters, especially labor matters.To this end, they must expand the scope of their activities beyond the legal labor issues, or the mediation of disputes, incorporating an interdisciplinary perspective that integrates legal, economic, social, and labor administration perspectives. In addition, it is important that they train and improve their staff continuously and up date their institutional design, incorporating the concept of strategic planning, so as to address in a more technical and efficient manner, and in coordination with other public and private agencies, a broader array of issues than those traditionally considered. Particularly, they should address professional education and training, raising the quality of jobs, the restructuring of the labor force, and in general all those issues that emerge from the transformations arising from global and regional economic integration, technological change, and the adaptation of markets and labor regimes to them.

b) Shall strengthen their capacity to produce relevant empirical information on the realities of the world of work and to process it as a foundation for policy-making. This is basic for increasing the technical capabilities of the Ministries' functions. In this regard, we reiterate what was agreed upon at the Tenth Conference with respect to giving the highest emphasis to actions in this area.

c) Shall make the necessary efforts to become recognized sources of public information on labor relations, employment, labor markets, professional training, working conditions, labor legislation, labor aspects of integration policies, and other similarly important issues.

d) Shall play a leadership role in convening social dialogue forums of different types. The Ministries of Labor should play the role of catalyst in bringing together Government and the social actors in this area. Promoting areas and matters for consensus building in the economic, social, and labor areas should be a policy priority for Ministries of Labor.

2) In the area of the inspection of national labor and social security standards

a) Shall intensify their inspection functions in labor and social security areas, taking into consideration the modalities suited to the institutional realities of each country. In the context of international and regional integration, observance of national legislation is a basic task that Ministries must fulfill in collaboration with other government agencies, unions, and employers.

b) They shall promote the modernization of the institutional design for inspection, and the methodologies to be used. The harmonization of certain labor standards in the context of those regional and sub-regional integration processes that are proposing to do so, can only be seriously analyzed based on the efficacy that the countries display, in the first instance in observing their own laws. Priority should be assigned to cooperation among employers, workers, and public enforcement agencies in preventive efforts by promoting education about the legislation and ways to implement it, and through joint preventive programs. At the same time, it is important that governments strengthen their enforcement capacity in the field, providing the resources needed to this end, including the continuous training of enforcement personnel in modern enforcement techniques, and mass dissemination through the media of the rights and duties set forth in law, among other public education initiatives.

 

WORKING GROUPS

In order to assist in the development of the aims set forth in the Declaration of Viņa del Mar, and in implementing the action items developed earlier, we agree to form two working groups whose mission will be to provide the Ministries of Labor with relevant information, studies, and materials so that they can implement the guidelines of the Plan of Action.

The working groups will be as follows:

1) GLOBALIZATION OF THE ECONOMY AND ITS SOCIAL AND LABOR DIMENSIONS

This group shall take up the following issues in sub-working groups:

"Social dimension of the integration processes"

Its objective will be to analyze the effects on the functioning of labor markets and labor relations institutions of the processes of economic integration in the Americas.

"Transformations in the structure and functioning of the labor markets and of the labor regimes"

Its mission will be to present an assessment of the situation at the regional level, identifying appropriate policies, and making recommendations on regulations of the labor market.

"Professional education and training"

Its mission will be to continue working to achieve the objectives assigned to the working group on "The Labor Force of the Future," created at the Tenth Conference.

"Systems for assisting unemployed workers"

Its mission will be to prepare a report on the situation in the region, and new initiatives that may be underway, and to develop criteria that may be useful in formulating policies in this area.

2) MODERNIZATION OF THE STATE AND LABOR ADMINISTRATION

This group will take up the following issues, through working sub-groups:

"Modernization of the Ministries of Labor"

Its mission will be to continue the work entrusted to the group with the same name established at the Tenth Conference, giving special attention to the implementation of information systems that will make it possible to have empirical bases for developing policies in the areas of their competence, particularly related to trends in employment, labor markets, and the status of labor relations.

"Modernization of the role of the state with respect to the fundamental rights of workers"

Its mission will be to provide information and analysis to the Ministries of Labor on the different national modalities and practices in the region with respect to institutional and legal instruments as well as appropriate innovative methodologies for them to carry out their role of promoting and enforcing the fundamental rights of workers as recognized by the ILO.

"Modernization of the labor courts"

Its mission will be to provide background information on national practices and initiatives that could form the basis for recommendations to increase the efficiency and efficacy of the judicial and procedural functions of the labor courts. In addition, the experience in the use of pre-judicial mechanisms, such as the mediation systems used in the region, will be evaluated.

"Social dialogue, negotiation, and collective bargaining"

Its mission will be to continue the work that was entrusted to the group of the same name at the Tenth Conference.

Institutional support for these working groups and working sub-groups will be sought from the OAS in the areas of coordination and Secretariat, as will the permanent and direct collaboration of the ILO, IDB and ECLAC in these tasks, as well as from other international agencies in their respective areas of competence.

 

APPENDIX TO THE PLAN OF ACTION

THE XI INTER-AMERICAN CONFERENCE OF MINISTERS OF LABOR,

CONSIDERING:

The guidelines and commitments of the First and Second Summits of Heads of State and Government of the Americas, held in December 1994 and April 1998, respectively;

The Declaration of Viņa del Mar, adopted by the Ministers of Labor on October 21, 1998, and its Plan of Action;

The need to define guidelines for the work of the Conference, in particular the work of the Chairman pro tempore and of its working groups, with a view to ensure effective implementation of the Plan of Action,

RESOLVES THE FOLLOWING:

  1. To recommend to the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States that, through the Technical Secretariat of the Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor, it lend support to the Chairman pro tempore in the implementation of the Plan of Action agreed to by this Conference.
  1. That each of the Working Groups identified in the Plan of Action of Viņa del Mar shall be coordinated by a minister elected by the Conference. Each minister may perform his or her functions directly or through a representative.
  1. That, to carry out their mandates, the working groups shall prepare their respective programs of activities, which shall include scheduled meetings, agendas, and meeting dates, as well as any necessary studies. In carrying out these activities, the coordinator of each working group shall request support from the OAS, the ILO, the IDB, ECLAC, and other relevant agencies.
  1. The working group coordinators shall draw up their respective programs of activities and preliminary timetables for implementation by April 1999 at the latest. In preparing these programs, the coordinators shall hold the necessary consultations among the member states, by any means deemed appropriate, to elicit opinions and obtain their subsequent approval. Copies of these programs of activities and their respective preliminary timetables shall be presented to the Chairman pro tempore.
  1. The programs of activity of the working groups shall be prepared in project form, to be presented to funding or technical assistance agencies, such as the ILO, the IDB, and ECLAC. The Chairman pro tempore and the working group coordinators shall take the necessary measures to obtain the appropriate funding or technical assistance.
  1. During the final processing of the projects, in order to present them in the appropriate format, it is recommended that an Advisory Committee of the Chairman pro tempore be established, made up of the coordinators of both working groups, representatives of the OAS, the ILO, the IDB, and ECLAC and of COTPAL, COSATE, and CEATAL, whose primary function shall be to guarantee that the projects comply with all requirements and rules to obtain the relevant funding or technical assistance.
  1. To request the OAS General Secretariat to redouble its efforts so that it may, in compliance with its present functions as Technical Secretariat, provide support to the coordination and cooperation activities of the Chairman pro tempore in implementing the Plan of Action.
  1. A ministerial meeting shall be held within 18 months, in the Dominican Republic, to evaluate the progress made in implementing the Plan of Action.
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