The issues affecting some 50 million of the region's employees will be discussed in a "worker specific forum" to be held at the University of the West Indies' St Augustine Campus today.
The conference entitled "Forum of the Workers of the Americas" is expected to feature some 153 trade unionists from 33 countries within the region, President of the National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago (NATUC), Michael Annisette, said yesterday.
The official opening ceremony of the two-day forum, which is expected to be held at UWI's Sport & Physical Education Centre (SPEC), is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. today, Annisette said at a press conference held at the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union Hall (SWWTU) on Wrightson Road, Port of Spain.
And both United States Secretary of Labour, Hilda Solis, along with local Labour Minister, Rennie Dumas, are expected to attend the forum's first day.
"This is a first of its kind in the context that we are having all these trade unionists from the Caribbean and Latin America and the region which will sit down, discuss and articulate issues that affect the workers all over the Americas and the Caribbean region and therefore come up at the ending of the day with a resolution," Annisette said.
"And that resolution we propose to take to the Foreign Ministers where we have been allotted 45 minutes to engage in discussions with the Foreign Ministers to articulate the trade unionists perspective of the global crisis and our views in the context of how we can reform this system that places workers at a disadvantage," he said.
The region's trade union hierarchy are expected to meet with the ministers on the Carnival Princess cruise ship on Friday.
This "cream of the crop" of the region's labour unions include Linda Chavez-Thompson, President of the Trade Union Confederation of the Americas (TUCA), her Secretary General Victor Baez and Stanley Gacek, Associate Director of the American Federation of Labour and Congress of Industrial Organizations.
"We want to make sure that the message is clear to all the Presidents, that while this economic crisis affects us all, we want to make sure that we are not unfairly targeted as workers are concerned," Chavez-Thompson said.
Baez added that workers are not part of the problem but are part of the solution for the current global financial crisis.