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Broadly defined the concept of ‘Sustainable’ suggests that there are recognizable limits to activity. To sustain is to cause to continue or keep up in a certain state. For example, ‘Sustainable Transformational’ has been defined as Transformational that can be sustained or is capable of continuing without interruptions.
Therefore, a sustainable labour market response can be defined as the maintenance of the net benefits that workers derive from the labour market as the market changes over time.
The concept of net benefits suggests that as the labour market evolves or changes over time, workers accrue costs and benefits. Workers through their unions would seek to minimize these costs and maximize the benefits associated with structural transformational and institutional changes taking place in the labour market.
To design a strategy for maintaining net benefits over time, trade unions must clearly understand the effects of structural transformational, and institutional changes on the labour market in Guyana.
Europe and Asia-Pacific and the general transformation of the financial, and labour market in the Caribbean over the coming decades. The challenge for the trade union movement therefore is designing a response to these changes and also to structural transformational policies while seeking to maintain net benefits derived by workers.
In the context of structural transformational programs, one response that unions have used is ‘concession bargaining,’ which is “the practice of negotiating reduced wages and benefits or more flexible work rules to help endangered companies reduce their labour costs and increase their productivity and competitiveness. In return, unions that make such concessions often win new job security rights, stock, and profits-sharing systems and a greater say in company decision-making”
Unions have therefore been willing to discuss flexibility in the labour market, that is adjustments of the workforce and hours of work to an economic situation that has been unstable or bringing wages in line with the “demands” of the economic situation that is, the reorganization of wage structures. Since trade unions negotiate wage and salary increases and conditions of work as a ‘package’.
The key to employment generation in Guyana lines in reviving the productive sectors (agriculture, construction, manufacturing, mining, oil and gas, and tourism). Since the long-term goal of structural transformational programs in the Caribbean has been expanding exports via the shift in resources to the tradeable goods sector, the level of activity in the international economy imposes limitations on the timing and rapidity with which the economy can be revived.
Long-run sustainable programs for economic transformation would be tax reform, trade policy reform, savings, and investment policy, and labour market policies.
In terms of labour market policies, an important aspect of a sustainable labour market response is worker participation in the decision-making process. While recognizing management’s right to manage, workers usually have a clear understanding of the production process and can therefore offer critical suggestions for increasing productivity in an organization. Indeed, there is practical evidence to suggest that trade union activity in the decision-making process increases Labour productivity.
Such co-determination would require strengthening and enhancing the skills of the employer and the worker organizations. At the national level, the involvement of the trade union movement in the formulation of national economic policies and plans to achieve sustainable economic growth becomes exceedingly important. The trade union movement would need to be strengthened to cope with the increased demands placed on the trade union movement. The trade union movement would have to explore the possibility of centralized bargaining or corporatism rather than pattern bargaining since centralized bargaining is more likely to fit in with nationally agreed economic goals than pattern bargaining:
- The exploration of non-traditional compensation arrangements (e.g., profit sharing, productivity bonuses, skill-based payment schemes, and other incentive payments) where these are perceived as ways to overcome specific problems. These new approaches must be related to enhanced job security, safety, and health at work and workers’ participation in decision-making
- The general response to “workplace innovations” (compensation schemes, worker participation, labour-management cooperation, and the organization of work and production) with greater protective and creative involvement.
- Seeking to encourage greater worker morale and productivity at the workplace, with connected gains received in the form of higher remuneration. Trade Unions in Guyana would therefore have to intensify their training and education to examine such issues as productivity, alternative compensation schemes, interpersonal relationships, worker-management relations, technical change, and the organization of work, changes in the economic environment, and their impact on the labour market, etc.
- National economic planning via membership in national economic councils, and trade unions nationally. Areas where centralized bargaining can be undertaken within the broad context of concession bargaining can be identified.
- The formulation and evaluation of institutional aspects of the labour market, labour legislation, minimum wages, income policies, training and education, wage contacts, and indexation. Periodic evaluations by trade unions of these aspects of the labour market would avoid traumatic effects on workers when they are forced to change in times of economic adversity.
- The formulation of policies and programs that would put the economy on a sustainable growth and development path. Such responses would provide for a greater inter-worldly market flexibility and therefore minimize the effects of external and internal shocks on the labour market.
In searching for a sustainable labour market response to these structural transformational, the trade union movement must be mindful of other structural and institutional changes taking place in the international economy. A sustainable labour market response would involve some degree of concession bargaining in the short-run and medium-run in the long term, the trade union movement must develop responses with respect to alternative forms of compensation, the formulation of the national economy transformational program, training, and education ( multi-skilling of labour and retraining programs), greater worker participation, some degree of centralized bargaining, evaluation and formulation of new labour legislation and improving productivity in the workplace. Carefully thought-out responses can ensure that the net benefits derived by workers in the labour market are at least maintained over time.