The umbrella body of trade unions has issued a call for Prime Minister Freundel Stuart to convene an urgent meeting of the Social Partnership.
The request comes amid continued criticism that the arrangement appeared to have broken down during Government’s retrenchment exercise.
Dennis de Peiza, general secretary of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) said he was confident the country’s leader would act even though he was yet to respond to a similar call made in January.
“Every effort must be made to address Barbados’ long-term survival and we can’t just look at 18 months and believe measures put in place for 18 months will, in fact, cushion and then create a stable environment to help the country to develop over time. We have to look at the bigger picture. . . ,” he said.
De Peiza insists that a plan of action must be developed and implemented soon in light of what he deemed to be apparent breaches in the arrangement, which has been in force since 1991. “We are using all existing appropriate channels to get the prime minister to understand that we need to sit down and deal with this matter based on the level of seriousness that is involved. We have too many issues.”
He added: “CTUSAB believes that in spite of some challenges facing the Social Partnership coming out of the current economic and fiscal crisis, these do not present a threat to its existence. CTUSAB, however, posits that there must be a firm recommitment on the part of the partners to observe the provisions of the existing protocol. The congress recognises that lack of prompt action can only serve to deepen the fallout from the crisis.”
But despite the many challenges facing workers and the labour movement, de Peiza maintains that Barbados has been able to maintain an exemplary record of good industrial relations practice.
He said further that since the establishment of the local trade union movement “there have been sustained efforts directed at promoting, protecting and securing the rights of the Barbadian workforce.”