Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss has not given up on the idea of 24-hour workday, stressing today that the introduction of legislation to facilitate the process remained a priority of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government.
Inniss mooted the idea about a year ago when he told the media that three committees had been set up and given a time frame of approximately six months to agree what was needed to make Barbados a “true 24/7 society”.
He indicated then that one committee would focus on the legal and regulatory framework and any deficiencies that might exist; the second committee would be led by the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI) and would focus on support services; while the third committee would deal with information and communication technology, and would be led by the Ministry of Civil Service.
The minister returned to the subject today during a tour of KM2 Solutions at Building no. 6, Harbour Industrial Estate, St Michael as part of the ministry’s and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s (BIDC) efforts to interact more with business operators, get a first hand view of their operations and hear of their successes and challenges.
Inniss made no reference to progress the committees might have made but he repeated that “one of the Government’s thrusts” was to make Barbados “a 24-hour society where we have more flexible working hours and working arrangements.”
“Gone are the days of opening of 8 a.m. and closing at 4 p.m. And I think right here in the Harbour Industrial Estate we have examples over the years of entities that had to do at least two or three shifts in order to meet the demands of their clients,” Inniss said following an announcement from KM2 Solutions vice president of Caribbean operations Tony Jennings that the company would be expanding its operations and employing more staff over the next year.
.He predicted that KM2 Solutions “will certainly be a 24/7, 365 days a year company” in the not too distant future because its clients were demanding it.
Inniss said Government had “to what it had to do” in order to make it easier for companies to have special working arrangements within a 24-hour society so staff would be safe and productive, clients would be happy and the companies would grow and bring in more foreign exchange.
“So this certainly is a priority area for Government. We just laid in Parliament the new Shops Act, and from my end we are continuing discussions on a few things that we just have to do to make it a full realization of being a 24-hour society,” Inniss said.
When he first raised the subject last October Inniss indicated that he had chaired what he described “as a productive meeting” with members of the private sector, labour and Government representatives to discuss the issue. The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations, the Barbados Employers’ Confederation, the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association and the Barbados International Business Association were represented at those talks
The BWU General Secretary Toni Moore told Barbados TODAY at the time that while she was not opposed to the idea, a number of changes would first have to be implemented. These included infrastructure, including 24-hour childcare and elderly care facilities; changes to other supporting services such as the public transportation system and improved
street lighting. (MM)