Wednesday, 28 September 2011

REPORTING LABOUR ISSUES


Remarks at the Opening Ceremony of “Communicating Rights at Work" – A Training Workshop for Media Professionals. Port of Spain – September 28, 2011

The ACM is delighted to be associated with this activity over the next three days. This workshop is an entirely fitting intervention by the ILO. It comes at a time when the region appears challenged by the need to balance political and economic expediency against the minimum requirements of universally-accepted rights and standards that span virtually the entire spectrum of human, social interaction.

On this occasion, we focus on international labour standards and how best media professionals are able to communicate workplace rights. In many respects, this subject does not represent neutral turf. Labour standards are by no means non-contentious, politically-blind obligations. They meet the classical criteria of the news agenda; presenting opportunities for following conflict, tracking money flows, reporting intrigue, defining inter-personal and group relations and identifying the fulfillment or lack of fulfillment of human potential.

For this reason, what participants are being offered over the next few days constitutes a bountiful package of raw story material waiting to be further elaborated on the news and features pages and broadcast productions of our various media enterprises.

And what stories they are.

We will explore the unfolding canvass of globalisation and how rights at work have become a cross-cutting, pervasive issue ignored at the peril of countries such as ours. The quest for social justice in the face of changing paradigms and a growing sense that poverty and hunger entangle the humanscape like lethal, creeping vines.

The tripartite formula, even as changing circumstances continually challenge the mathematics of relationships across the labour aisles and bring into clearer view the algebra that leads to cohesion and social peace. The role of media as interlocutors in the developmental dialogue – as intermediaries between the governed and those who govern.

Indeed, these are all stories that already reach our front pages and lead our newscasts in the garb of crime and violence, industrial conflict, political intrigue and the terms of our peoples’ engagement with the world around them.

We are fortunate that our alliance with the ILO has led us to this point. Our societies cry out for counsel on the maintenance of freedoms and rights. They urge us on to provide a basis for understanding and appreciating the value of minimum expectations in a world of change.

Understanding labour standards and their impact on tangible economic outputs can provide a much needed nexus between aspiration and achievement – how societies construct tangible evidence out of otherwise elusive, unseen values and standards and goals. How rights and freedoms are indispensable, indivisible features of human progress, however grave the present reality, however urgent the need to abrogate them appear.

In this regard, we would do well to get these stories right. It is our obligation. It is an important requirement which substantiates the case for specific, discrete rights and freedoms for a sector upon which modern democracies continue to rely.
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