Forget about paying staff overtime and start having flexi-work hours.
Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss, an advocate of the introduction of a 24-hour work day in Barbados, made the recommendation last evening as he suggested changes to existing labour laws to accommodate the idea.
Stating that he was “a firm believer in flexible working hours”, the outspoken Government minister said he did not see “why Bridgetown needs to close at 4:30 on evenings”.
“We really need to find ways in which many of our enterprises can remain open longer and well into the night,” he said.
“I firmly believe that to make that happen, we are going to have to be more flexible with our labour laws too, to stop this thing that says, ‘if you go beyond 5 o’clock, you are talking about overtime or double pay in this country’,” Inniss said.
“There are some who are going to just have to stagger the work hours to make it happen so that those who are strolling out of the law offices and other offices in Bridgetown can take their time and go shopping and know that the stores are still open on evenings.”
Inniss’ comments came as he addressed a gathering at the Broad Street location of Cave Shepherd following a tour of the renovated flagship store. He lauded officials of the company, saying he was grateful for their investment and the faith they had demonstrated in the Barbados economy.
“This is a company we can be very proud of and I hope you can remain in Barbadian hands a little longer than others. We certainly have faith in you and have to exhibit that by coming out here and continuing to support you,” he told officials of the more than 100-year-old company.
Inniss said the hundreds of thousands of dollars of investment by the company should also “send a signal” to other business operators that “now is the time to invest in equipment and people in Barbados”. He also issued a call to other business operators in the City to help with the revitalization of Bridgetown.
The Minister of Commerce said Government was willing to work with the private sector to bring about the desired change. “But if you have done all of this and we are still not able to drive traffic, then I am afraid you are not going to get the return on your investment that you expect,” he said, adding that despite development in other parts of the country, “we are duty bound to maintain Bridgetown as a vibrant city.
“What do I believe needs to be done to transform Bridgetown and make it a shopping mecca again and drive more traffic here? First, it must look like a place that people would wish to come to. I will be honest with you and say it had started to look drab and dreary. I see too many buildings with broken windows and doors that don’t seem to close, that are in dire need of a paint job . . .but it has to be physically appealing. Bridgetown is not as attractive as it used to be,” pointed out Inniss.
As such, he said, it was about time that the private sector, civil society and Government work together to find more attractive ways “to bring Bridgetown alive and make it look like a place that people would want to come to work and to shop”.
“I also believe that Bridgetown needs to be more pedestrian friendly,” Inniss said. “We need some more plants. We need to really make it feel (like) a place you can sit and relax and then get up and stroll around and shop.”
“It can happen,” affirmed Inniss, while pledging Government’s commitment to help address the security concerns. (MM)