Column: The Importance of Social Dialogue

November 16, 2021

[Opinion column written by BPSU General Secretary Kevin Grant]

The International Labour Organization [ILO] defines social dialogue as “all types of negotiation, consultation, or exchange of information, between or among representatives of governments, employers, and workers, on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy.” Social dialogue promotes democratic involvement and buy-in of stakeholders. It is a collaborative process that can bring resolution to critical economic and social issues while at the same time fostering good governance, transparency, and strong industrial relations.

One of the most important aspects of social dialogue is that it provides constructive processes that maximizes the impact of crisis responses. This can be regularly done through Collective Bargaining and Joint Consultative Committee meetings which can contribute to successful policy and decision-making. Social dialogue also establishes a strong foundation for building the commitment of Government, the private sector, unions, and social partners to the joint action needed to overcome a crisis and collaborate for a sustainable recovery.

Unions have a responsibility to our members and the wider community to engage in inclusive mechanisms that encourages collaboration and strengthens the capacities and processes for effective social dialogue. Recent headlines in the media indicate that the government intends to bring forward a number of initiatives. Unemployment insurance, liveable wage, health insurance reform, immigration reform, climate change and the ongoing pandemic are all issues that must be considered via social dialogue. It is imperative that all stakeholders are engaged in meaningful and open dialogue to discuss these initiatives as they will have a significant impact on our members and the the wider community.

There is pride in the phrase “Bermuda is another world”, however, we must acknowledge that we are part of a global society. The Covid-19 pandemic has surely awakened us to this fact. Social dialogue is vital as we continue to navigate these precarious times. Forums such as the Labour Advisory Committee, various government boards, town-hall meetings, and more importantly, collective bargaining provide the opportunity for frank and open dialogue that must encourage a human-centered approach.

Noting that the theme of government’s recent Throne Speech was Social Renewal and Economic Recovery, the BPSU believes that this should be the impetus that puts social dialogue at the epicentre of how we collaboratively plan for the future of Bermuda.

- Kevin Grant


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