Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo today insisted that the island’s industrial relations climate was sound, even as public officers were put on standby for action in solidarity with protesting workers of the Barbados Water Authority.
Byer-Suckoo told the Senate this afternoon that industrial relations had been tested and had come close to breaking point at times during the Democratic Labour Party’s eight years in office, but it had stood the test of time.
“As far as labour relations in this country are concerned, anybody knows it’s no secret that during a recession labour relations become very, very tense.
“It has been about balancing the needs of the two sides – the employers and the employees – [while] considering the needs of the society and in our situation now, considering too, the needs of Government and the resources of Government and trying to get out of the situation we are in,” the minister said.
She said the trade unions were seeking the best out of every situation for their members, while employers were looking at their bottom line.
“So you can understand that there has been a bit of unease, but at the end of the day you give credit where credit is due,” Dr Byer-Suckoo said.
Meanwhile Leader of Government Business in the Senate Maxine McClean told the Upper House that she had received information that some public officers were planning to take industrial action.
She described this as “a sad thing for this country” and called for cooler heads to prevail.
“Because at the end of the day, we have had in this country excellent, mature industrial relations. And I would hope that the efforts of persons like Senator Sir Roy Trotman who has given his life . . . to building that climate and therefore I trust that his successors, successors in the other unions of the stalwarts that we knew, will recognize that at the end of the day what we
are doing is serving interests, not of a Government or an Opposition, but we are serving the interests of the people of the country,” McClean said.