The island’s largest public sector bargaining agent is throwing its support behind calls from Minister of Education Ronald Jones for a larger population so that local businesses could have access to a more diverse consumer base.
General secretary of the National Union of Public Workers’ Union, Dennis Clarke, stating that he had no briefs from the Minister or held no discussions with him on the on the matter, said yesterday he was on board with what was being proposed.
“Mr Jones is correct in asking that there be more babies born, but I am not going to say to someone if they can’t afford it to go and have a baby. The theory behind his statement is something we in the labour movement here and in the Caribbean have been looking . . .
“If you look into Europe right now, Britain, France, Spain. All of them have shifted the retirement age. Why? Because they do not have the young people in the workforce to keep those things going; those same social benefits that we want,” he said, suggesting that the United States did not have this problem given that it had a youthful workforce.
“You don’t have that in Europe, you don’t have that in Barbados. So that is what I believe is what would be behind his call and if that is the case I support it. I’ve said so over and over again. We in the Caribbean are looking at it because we see, down the line, that public servants will have to contribute to their pensions and those things are going to increase the premiums you pay because you don’t have the mass,”
He told reporters following a church service at the St Luke’s Anglican Church to mark Public Workers’ Week 2014 that what the minister was proposing needed to be carefully examined.
On the floor of Parliament, during debate on the 2014-2015 Estimates Of Revenue And Expenditure, Jones, in his submission noted that the country needed to have its population standing at around 325,000 within another decade, so that local businesses could have access to a more diverse consumer base.
“Barbados needs a slightly bigger population. The land size of 166 square miles must not be a hindrance . . . . If it can’t be reproduced in Barbados – because the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA) has overdone its job – then we must open our doors and [invite] a careful selection of those who can deliver children and within a certain age range,” he said, adding that this would “make sense of the programmes we are looking to develop in Barbados: more people paying taxes, more people eating our agricultural produce and utilising our manufactured goods and services”.