Updated June 7, 2001

Second Summit of the Americas

MODERNIZATION OF STATE IN LABOR MATTERS

The Santiago Plan of Action displays the Member States' desires for a strong labor force, along with work preparation, education and training. These advances are essential if workers are to improve their skills and standard of living. Modernization constitutes various areas, from the adoption of new technology, to occupational training and formal education, to the improvement of entrepreneurial skills. More specifically, governments undertook to take the following steps in modernizing their State in labor matters:

The Eleventh Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor of the OAS took place in Viña del Mar, Chile, on October 20 and 21, 1998. The main issues analyzed by the Ministers were "Globalization of the Economy and its Social and Labor dimensions" and "Modernization of the State and Labor Administration: Requirements and Challenges". The Ministers signed the Declaration of Viña del Mar and approved a Plan of Action.

In order to assist in the developments of the aims set forth in the Declaration and   the Plan of Action, two working groups were formed:

a.  Globalization of the Economy and its Social and Labor Dimensions: This group will study issues such as Social dimension of the integration processes, transformation in the structure and functioning of the labor markets and of the labor regimes, professional education and training systems for assisting unemployed workers.

b.  Modernization of the State and Labor Administration: This group will take up issues such as modernization of the Ministries of Labor, modernization of the enforcement functions of the state in respect of the fundamental rights of workers, modernization of the labor courts, social dialogue, negotiation, and collective bargaining.

Globalization of the Economy and its Social and Labor Dimensions (Working Group I)

The Group I meetings, coordinated by the Ministry of Labor of Peru, took place on the 21st, 22nd and 23rd of June 1999, in Lima, Peru. Representatives from Argentina, Bolivia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the United States, Mexico, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay attended these meetings, as well as members from the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Entrepreneurial Commission for Technical Advice on Labor Issues (CEATAL), the Workers' Regional Interamerican Organization (ORIT) and the OAS.

Within this framework, the following issues were discussed:

Modernization of the State and Labor Administration: Requirements and Challenges. (Working Group II)

The Group II meetings, coordinated by the Ministry of Labor of Costa Rica, took place April 14-16, 1999 in San Rafael de Heredia, Costa Rica.  Delegates from Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Panama, as well as representatives from the Trade Union Technical Advisory Council (COSATE), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Program for Labor Issues in Central America (PROALCA) - part of the US Development Agency (USAID), and the OAS participated in the meeting.

With respect to the modernization of ministries of labor, emphasis was placed on the need to introduce changes in the following areas:

As a result of this analysis various projects or horizontal cooperation activities were identified, including the need for:

The delegate of the United States offered to draw up a project encompassing most of the issues discussed by the Working Groups and to present it to the Inter-American Development Bank.  Progress made by the Working Groups will be presented at the next ILO meeting in Lima (august 1999), as well as at the upcoming ministerial meeting to be held during the first quarter of 2000.

Meeting of Ministers of Labor

On February 24-25, 2000, in Washington D.C., the Ministers of Labor of the hemisphere met for a two-day follow-up session of the Eleventh Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor. Agencies responsible for assisting in this conference include the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Organization of American States (OAS). The Minister of Labor of Chile, Mr. Germán Molina, President Pro Temp of the Conference, opened the session followed by the Secretary General of the OAS, César Gaviria. The main objective of this meeting was to review the progress made in implementing the Plan of Action approved by the ministers in their 1998 meeting in Viña del Mar, Chile.

The ministers reviewed the progress reports and proposals presented by the two working groups set up at the Viña del Mar meeting. Perú, as coordinator for Working Group I on "Economic Globalization and Its Social and Labor Dimensions", presented a document stressing the social dimension of integration processes. The document outlines the transformations undergone by labor markets and labor legislation, recommends reforms in training and vocational education, and argues in favor of establishing systems to assist unemployed workers or workers changing jobs.

The second working group, coordinated by Costa Rica, presented its conclusions in a report entitled "Modernization of the State and Labor Administration: Requirements and Challenges". Some of the main points emphasized in it were: general labor administration topics, inspection systems, information and statistics systems, mechanisms for prejudicial settlement of labor disputes, dialogue between labor and management, collective bargaining, and integration of special collectives in the labor market.

To follow-up on these proposals, the presidency convened for a future meeting of the Advisory Committee. They will prepare specific projects for technical cooperation on nine different areas:

Finally, the ministers agreed to hold the XII Conference next year in Canada, and the XIII meeting in Brazil during 2003.

To see a more detailed description of this conference including all the documents previously mentioned and any other specific resolutions passed, please see: Meeting to Follow-up on the Decisions adopted by the Eleventh Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor

The Advisory Committee, established by the XI Conference of Ministers of Labor, met in Santiago, Chile, on June 22-23, 2000, to draft the Technical Cooperation Program to be presented to the different agencies and international organizations for financing. Health and security in the workplace, employee advancement, and basic rights in the workplace are topics that appear among the presented projects.

Support in Employment and Labor Affairs from the Unit for Social Development and Education

With regard to employment and labor affairs, the Second Summit of the Americas requested the OAS’s cooperation to assist labor ministries in exchanging information on methods and strategies for modernizing the State and labor administrations. In compliance with this, the Unit for Social Development and Education is supporting the member states’ efforts at the levels described below.

1. Regarding labor information systems, the Unit is providing technical support for the implementation of a System of Information on Labor Markets (SISMEL). To date, the following progress has been made: a set of basic labor indicators for assessing the impact of economic policies on labor markets has been selected; direct cooperation has been provided for thirteen countries for improving labor statistics; two regional seminars have been organized to determine standardized terminology and labor indicators; and a SISMEL webpage has been launched, at www.sismel.net, which interconnects twenty labor ministries in a labor market information network.
2. In the field of employment promotion policies, the Unit is supporting the implementation of a multilateral Horizontal Cooperation Survey to enable the member states to assess and exchange experiences with employment and job training policies. To date three regional seminars have been held, dealing with the following areas: (i) productive employment policies, (ii) job training policies, and (iii) protection policies for unemployed workers. In addition, an electronic information network is being set up to interconnect the labor ministries in regard to this issue. To be connected to that website, please click here.
3. Finally, in accordance with the mandate of the Second Summit of the Americas regarding specific instruments for expanding job creation, the Unit has held four seminars on Policies and Instruments for the Development of Small Businesses. These events were aimed at making government authorities and business leaders aware of the most successful policies and programs in the region. Please see the following links (in their original language) for more information and documentation regarding these seminars: 

The mandates and initiatives for labor matters were reinvigorated and fortified at the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas.  For more information on these mandates, and to continue with follow up activities in the area of labor, please click here.

Updated June 7, 2001

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