BPSU FOSTERING INCLUSIVE GOVERNANCE: The Urgent Call for Tripartite Social Dialogue

As we stand on the threshold of a new year, the horizon is painted with ambitious Government initiatives includingEducation Reform, Universal Health Care, Pension Reform, Tax Reform, Economic Recovery Plan, Economic Development Strategy, and a Global Minimum Corporate Income Tax plan.

While these projects promise much-needed transformative changes for Bermuda, some concerns have emerged about anabsence of meaningful consultation with stakeholders. The Bermuda Public Services Union, steadfast in its commitment to the well-being of its members and the broader community, advocates for the implementation of Tripartite Social Dialogue as a cornerstone for effective governance.

In the past year, the lack of consensus on the consultation processes has created a palpable challenge. Consultation, often reduced to an information exchange, should be elevated to a platform that invites diverse opinions, encourages open dialogue, and values every perspective. It is not merely a transaction but an essential step toward establishing collective agreements and forging a social pact that resonates with the needs of all stakeholders.

The concept of Tripartite Social Dialogue, championed by our Union and endorsed by the International LabourOrganization (ILO), embodies the collaborative spirit necessary for inclusive governance. Including representatives from the government, workers, and employers.  This model has proven successful globally in promoting social justice, economic growth, improved working conditions, and sustainable enterprises.

The ILO outlines a comprehensive agenda for invigorating open dialogue, covering crucial topics such as labour and employment relations, economic policy issues, employment creation, gender equality, social security, working conditions, and adherence to international labour standards. Incorporating these themes into our discussions is vital for ensuring a holistic approach that addresses the diverse needs of our society.

Disputes within our communities often stem from a failure to embrace proper consultation etiquette. Voluntary participation, with stakeholders actively desiring involvement, is fundamental. Every party holds a pivotal role and should be committed to full engagement. Consultations and negotiations must persist until a decision acceptable to all is reached, reflecting the democratic ideals we uphold.

Tripartite Social Dialogue offers clear advantages, signaling to stakeholders and civil society that their contributions are valued. It fosters engagement, promotes diversity, and ensures transparency in decision-making. However, a critical, yet sometimes overlooked, component is shared sacrifice. All stakeholders must be willing to make sacrifices for the collective benefit, a key ingredient for achieving agreements that stand the test of time.

Once such agreements are made, the parties involved should be able to deliver on what has been agreed.  Implementation, and an agreement on how the implementation is to occur, are essential; without proper implementation, social dialogue might be perceived as being a “lot of talk without any action”.

As the Government has already established platforms for dialogue, there exists a unique opportunity to reinforce the principles of Tripartite Social Dialogue including through the various Government Boards and Committees. The commitment to open and frank dialogue, enhancing the concept of consultation, must be embraced by all stakeholders. Meaningful discussions, even when difficult, are essential. Recognizing that challenging decisions may arise; it is through real collaborative consultation that resolutions can be achieved.

In conclusion, as we embark together on a year of potential transformation, let us champion a model of governance that prioritizes dialogue, inclusivity, and shared responsibility. The implementation of Tripartite Social Dialogue is not just a call for action; it is a commitment to a future where decisions are made collectively, and the fruits of dialogue are translated into tangible actions for the betterment of our society.

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