Social Protection

Access to an adequate level of social protection is recognized by International Labour Standards and the United Nations as a basic right of all individuals. Yet most men and women do not have adequate levels of social protection. Social protection assumes even greater importance in the Caribbean region, in the wake of increased enterprise and sectoral restructuring and the spread of non-standard employment. It embraces many aspects of labour market regulation as well as issues of savings, pension contributions, and unemployment and disability benefits. Workers in the informal economy and those in non-standard forms of employment, face disadvantages because of the limited coverage of existing social security systems.

Social Protection is one of the four strategic objectives of the Decent Work Agenda which define the core work of the ILO. Since its creation in 1919, the ILO has actively promoted policies and provided its member States with tools and assistance aimed at improving and expanding the coverage of social protection to all members of the community. Areas covered under social protection include occupational safety and health, social security, HIV/AIDS and the workplace, and labour migration.

Social protection and the ILO in the Caribbean

The ILO is committed to helping Caribbean countries extend social protection to all groups in society and to improving working conditions and safety at work. Its work in this area has included:
  • The conduct of actuarial reviews and basic capacity-building for social security administrations in six countries (Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia).
  • Technical assistance in the setting up of the National Insurance Board of Trinidad and Tobago and the conduct of periodic actuarial reviews.
  • The hosting of a regional training workshop for Government labour inspectors on 26-30 September 2005.
  • A Tripartite Workshop on the development of a strategic approach to occupational safety and health for five Caribbean countries (The Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago).
  • The implementation of HIV/AIDS Workplace Education Programmes in six countries: Barbados, Belize, Jamaica (completed), and Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago (ongoing). The aim of the programmes is to contribute to the prevention of HIV/AIDS in the world of work, the enhancement of workplace protection and reduction of its adverse consequences on social, labour and economic development.