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1 A Summary of the Newfoundland and Labrador Strategic Partnership by vmarcelo

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									A Summary of the Newfoundland and Labrador Strategic Partnership Initiative


        In keeping with its mandate to protect and advance the social and economic
interests of the province and its people, the NLFL has entered into the Strategic
Partnership Initiative (SPI) along with key players from business and government.

        The SPI grew out of the recognition that Newfoundland and Labrador faces
serious socio-economic challenges, requiring new models of strategic cooperation in
some areas.

       While the NLFL played a central role in laying the groundwork for the SPI, and is
the key Labour participant, major labour organizations not officially affiliated with the
NLFL are also actively involved, including the Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses
Union, the Newfoundland and Labrador Building and Construction Trades Council, and
the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association.

        As an initial step in identifying possible models on which to base this new
approach, in 2001 a “Strategic Partnership Study Group”, a tripartite committee of senior
officials from Labour, Business, and Government, was established to explore partnership
models in the European context.

        The Study Group conducted a review of the literature on Social Dialogue in
selected European countries, conducted interviews with key stakeholders, and undertook
study missions to Iceland, Ireland, and The Netherlands.

        The Study Group identified important areas of contrast between Newfoundland
and Labrador and Europe in their approach to establishing policy on socio-economic
issues, some of which are summarized in this table:


                         Newfoundland
Characteristic                                     Europe
                         and Labrador

Purpose of Dialogue      Consultation              Consensus Building


                         Sectoral or Regional      National Level Issues &
Focus of Dialogue
                         Level Issues              Strategy

Use of Information       Internal Analysis         Joint Analysis
Preferred Solutions      Legislative               Voluntary




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Responsibility for                                 Government, Business &
                         Government
Leadership & Action                                Labour



   The Study Group also noted some key lessons that emerged from the European
experience, which were applicable to the situation here in Newfoundland and Labrador:

   •   Economic crises forced the various interests within those countries to take a more
       collaborative approach.
   •   Labour, business, and government recognized that they have a strong common
       interest in developing a healthy economy.
   •   Cooperation among labour, business, and government requires a shared
       understanding of opportunities and challenges.
   •   Collaboration is built through non-confrontational, effective dialogue.
   •   In each country studied, partnership among business, labour and government has
       contributed in some way to social and economic success.
   •   Conflicts will still occur, but they can be dealt with separately from the main
       focus of improving the socio-economic situation.

    Rather than simply try to graft a European model onto the Newfoundland and
Labrador context, the group sought to build a “made in Newfoundland and Labrador”
approach to Strategic Partnership. The keys to this task were drawing upon but modifying
the European approaches, building on the success of other recent collaborative initiatives
in this province (such as Workers’ Compensation and Labour Standards), building the
capacity of the various partners to participate in the process, and identifying some key
challenges and opportunities within Newfoundland and Labrador upon which dialogue
could be initiated.

    The Newfoundland and Labrador SPI has emerged based upon a number of guiding
principles:

   •   Recognition that business and labour share a responsibility for advancing the
       socio-economic interests of the Province.
   •   A shared desire for consensus on an understanding of the socio-economic
       situation.
   •   Recognition of the importance of constructive dialogue, effective communication,
       and trust among the partners.
   •   Agreement that business, labour and government are each responsible for
       ensuring they represent their constituencies.
   •   Commitment to the capacity building required for meaningful involvement.
   •   Recognition that government has a democratic responsibility to act in the public
       interest where consensus is not possible.
   •   Recognition that focus is on strategic policy issues rather than collective
       bargaining.


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   •   Desire to include broader engagement of the community sector over time.

    The Key Components of the Strategic Partnership Initiative are the Steering
Committee, the Working Groups, the Secretariat, and the Forum, all of which are
tripartite bodies with representation from Labour, Business, and Government.

    The SPI Steering Committee is a 9-member tripartite committee that provides overall
guidance and ensures that necessary preparatory and follow-up work is done on specific
issues flagged for collaborative action. The Steering Committee is comprised of high-
level representatives of the partner groups. Labour’s representatives on the Steering
Committee are the members of the NLFL Executive: President Elaine Price, Vice-
President Reg Anstey, and Secretary Treasurer Margie Hancock..

    The Working Groups are ad hoc bodies constituted to discuss and deal with specific
issues as identified by the Steering Committee.

     The Secretariat carries out the more in-depth research and analysis on specific issues.
It is comprised of representatives from Labour, Business and Government, as well as an
independent Policy Analyst and Administrative Support staff. Labour’s representative on
the Secretariat is Richard Rennie, Director of Economic and Social Policy, NLFL.

    The Forum is a semi-annual meeting chaired by the Premier and focusing on the
socio-economic issues under consideration by the SPI. There are 27 seats on the Forum, 9
each for Labour, Business, and Government.

   Labour’s representatives on the Strategic Partnership Forum are:

       •   Elaine Price, President, NLFL.
       •   Reg Anstey (Fish, Food and Allied Workers/CAW), Vice-President, NLFL.
       •   Ron Smith, President, Canadian Energy and Paperworkers
       •   Tom Hanlon (Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Public and Private
           Employees)
       •   Dave Reynolds (Canadian Union of Public Employees)
       •   George Kean (United Steelworkers of America)
       •   Bill Parsons (Newfoundland and Labrador Building and Construction Trades
           Council)
       •   Debbie Forward (Newfoundland and Labrador Nurses Union)
       •   Ed Hancock (Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers Association)



   The Newfoundland and Labrador SPI has been dealing with a wide range of issues
central to the social and economic well-being of our province, including federal-
provincial fiscal arrangements, demographic challenges, labour standards, and
productivity and competitiveness.




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    The SPI is a new and innovative way of doing things, not only in this province, but in
the country. It is not a quick fix to our social and economic problems, and it is not a
panacea. Nor is it a form of centralized collective bargaining; specific collective
bargaining issues should and will be dealt with independently of the process and goals of
the SPI.

   The SPI is a practical, collaborative, strategic approach to advancing the socio-
economic interests of Newfoundland and Labrador, and is based on a commitment to
sharing information and improving communication among business, labour and
government for the good of the entire province.




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