Press release

Successful meeting inclusive labour market

Willemstad, 13 June 2024 – Human Rights Defense Curaçao (HRDC), in cooperation with the Social and Economic Council of Curaçao (SER) and the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF), organised a successful meeting aimed at promoting an inclusive labour market. The meeting on 11 June brought together representatives of several key organisations, including the Curaçao Business Association (VBC), Machinery and Energy BV, Kolektivo Curaçao Foundation, Stichting Hulp aan Auditief Gehandicapten (Foundation for Aid to the Audit Impaired), Sentro Solari, Deloitte Caribbean, Klinika Capriles, Fundashon Alton Paas and Curaçao Investment & Export Promotion Agency (CINEX).

Raul Henriquez, Director/General Secretary of the SER, opened the meeting virtually from Geneva, where he is chairing discussions on behalf of the International Association of Socio-Economic Advisory Councils and Similar Institutions (AICESIS) at the 112th ILO International Labour Conference. Henriquez stressed the need for clear policies and strategies for an inclusive labour market. He called for concrete steps to address workplace discrimination, ensure equal opportunities for all workers and implement measures that promote income equality. He stressed that both employers and the government should actively support diversity and inclusion in all economic sectors.

Raynel Martis, director of PADF Aruba and Curaçao, moderated the meeting and gave insights into regional initiatives and PADF’s expertise aimed at supporting vulnerable groups to support and collaborate with government, NGOs and the private sector to include migrants in the labour market. He referred to ongoing projects in, among others, Colombia, Brazil, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba and Curaçao.

Raymond Jamanika, director of HRDC, stressed the need for an inclusive labour market by improving accessibility to urban centres and buildings for people with disabilities. He argued that undocumented migrants and persons with disabilities have equal rights as everyone else. He also spoke about the need for cooperation with socially responsible investors.

Barbara Perquin, senior advisor at the SER, outlined the history of efforts, starting with the Prime Minister’s 2018 request for a ‘Population Policy for Curaçao’. This led to the ‘Migration and Socio-economic Development’ symposium in May 2019, two SER explorations, two roundtables and a follow-up symposium. These efforts resulted in a SER letter advisory to the government of Curaçao in May 2023 and a Manifesto for an inclusive labour market, presented on 24 November 2023 to various stakeholders.

Daniel Hodge, chairman of VBC, highlighted the current challenges of the social security system, especially the General Old Age Insurance (AOV). He called for expansion of the workforce and modernisation of labour laws, with more flexibility for the inclusion of women and persons with disabilities.

Alex Rosaria, Program Manager at HRDC, discussed demographic trends in Curaçao and advocated for updating the population policy. He argued that raising the AOV age is not a long-term solution and stressed the need for population growth and evaluation of historical migration approaches.

Attendees discussed the challenges and solutions regarding the inclusion of persons with disabilities and undocumented migrants in the labour market. Experiences were shared and the importance of accessible means of transport, buildings, job coaching and training for persons with physical and mental disabilities was highlighted.

The meeting provided a valuable platform for dialogue and cooperation among various stakeholders, with the aim of promoting a more inclusive labour market in Curaçao. HRDC and SER are determined to continue these conversations and take concrete steps towards inclusion and equality in the labour market.