Government Employment policy

Employment Challenges
Ever since market access for Bananas in Europe deteriorated in the mid nineties, employment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines was adversely affected. Job creation in the non-agricultural sector expanded but could not offset job losses in the agricultural sector and a long term trend of slow overall employment growth characterized Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ labour market since the nineties.

More vigorous GDP and employment growth in the period 2001 to 2008 resulted in a small drop in the unemployment rate from 21.1 percent in 2001 to 18.8 percent in percent in 2008. The drop in unemployment for males from 22.6 percent to 12.2 percent was a reversal of the trend in the previous period (1991 to 2001), when male unemployment was on the rise and female unemployment was reduced. These developments took place in an expanding labour market that saw the labour supply increase from 59.4 percent of the Working Age Population (WAP) in 2001 to 64.6 percent in 2008.

The onset of the global economic and financial crisis in 2008, reversed the labour trends as the country experienced a slow down and subsequent decline of economic growth. The Government expects a decline in employment creation and increase in unemployment as a result of these adverse economic developments.

Focus of employment policies and programmes
The employment policies of the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are integrated into its sector policies, more specifically in its Agricultural, Tourism, Education, Poverty Eradication and Youth policies.  In the 2011 Budget Address by Dr. the Honourable Ralph E. Gonsalves, Prime Minister/Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, delivered on Monday 24th January, 2011 the following employment policies and programmes were highlighted:

1) The employment impact of the agricultural policies is pursued through a mix of measures that provide strong support to this sector aiming at diversification, expansion of production and enhancing productivity and competitiveness. These include:
a) Training in production technologies, agri-business management, good agricultural practices: pest and disease control through the Agricultural Training Institute
b) Reduced prices for inputs and tractor services
c) Reducing larceny and;
d) Provision of credit to farmers, working in conjunction with the Credit Union League through a Micro Credit Facility.

2) A Hospitality Institute to train new entrants and existing personnel in the tourism and maritime sectors.

3) Poverty eradication strategies
a) Strengthening of labour markets to ensure productivity and competitiveness.
b) Provisions of day and evening care services to support the educational advancement and training of mothers, to improve their participation in the labour market.
c) Enterprise development and promotion focusing on tourism, ICT and agriculture sectors.
d) Education and training to promote labour market participation of those who have already left the traditional school system.

4) A Public Sector Investment Programme that will generate jobs and that directly targets the Agricultural and the Tourism sectors.

5) Youth Empowerment Service (YES)
a) Broadening and deepening the Youth Empowerment Service (YES)
b) focus on  building an entrepreneurial spirit and better
c) Promotion of existing tax laws that give tax benefits to private sector businesses that are actively engaged in Private-Public Sector Partnerships such as the YES.

Labour Market Policy

Revision of the current Labour Legislation
The Department of Labour is currently undertaking a Review and Modernization of the Labour Legislation in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines ratified the ILO Maritime Labour Convention 2006 (paragraph 2 and 10 of Standard A4.5). Subsequent to this ratification the Cabinet decided to mandate the NIS to pursue the social protection of the seafarers who work on ships flying the St Vincent and the Grenadines’ flag. The Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has communicated its intention to the ILO to provide social protection for seafarers in the areas of Sickness benefits, Maternity benefits, Employment Injury benefits and Survivors benefits.


Policy Documents and reports of the Trade Unions
Annual report of the

Commercial, Technical and Allied Workers Union (CTAWU)
National Workers Movement (NWM)
Public Service Union (PSU)
Saint Vincent Union of Teachers (SVUT)
LIAT Workers Union
St. Vincent Medical Association

Policy Documents and reports of Employers’ Organizations

Chamber of Commerce
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Employers’ Federation (SVEF)