Private sector bodies, whose hundreds of members stand to be impacted negatively due to intensified strike action today, are calling for a speedy resolution to the ongoing wage dispute between Government and the unionized workers.
The plea came as the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) called on the Bridgetown Port and airport unionized workers to join in solidarity with striking Barbados Water Authority (BWA) workers who have been off the job for about a week demanding payment of about $33 million in outstanding increments.
Early this morning the Bridgetown Port workers and air traffic control officials joined the strike action triggering a temporary closure at the airport and very little activity at the Port.
Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Alex McDonald told Barbados TODAY private sector businesses were always keen to see industrial strains resolved “before they get to this stage”.
“As a result we urge everybody to go back to the negotiating table, mindful of the slow recovery that we have been having over the past six years,” said McDonald.
He pointed out that with the matter seemed likely to be escalating beyond a Barbados Water Authority issue it could have a negative impact on “the wider community”.
McDonald added that while he understood people were “on their last straw”, they should be mindful that the economy was at “a very fragile state” and therefore they should remain “cool in these matters” as they bring about restoration without “heavy sanctions on by either party”.
“We hope that all the parties are mindful of the impact they have and quickly come to a position where they can find it reasonable for the employer and reasonable for the employee. We hope that this exercise of industrial call isn’t prolonged beyond the weekend, or even if it can be terminated sometime today would be good. But I would urge all parties to work assiduously to get into an achievement mode” encouraged McDonald.
Executive Director of the Barbados Manufacturing Association (BMA) Bobbi McKay told Barbados TODAY she would continue to monitor the protest action to see how long it was likely to last.
However, McKay urged each party to resolve the matter, saying they should be mindful of the likely negative impact their action could have on business operations within the private sector and ultimately consumers.
“Often when these things happen the related parties have to understand that they too are customers, and any impact will also impact them,” said McKay.
“Their action will have impact on costs than anything else. Not just Port workers, most workers in general don’t make the connect between the fact that they too are consumers and how something is going to affect the consumers in general. Everybody living on this rock is a consumer and the strike action will affect other people,” said McKay.
Meantime, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) also issued a call for a speedy resolution that was satisfactory to all parties involved.
“It is important for there to be cognizance of the national good taking into consideration Barbados’ reputation, the right of the employees, the impact on business and the costs implications for those affected,” the BCCI said in a brief statement this morning.
The private sector organization said it was also looking forward to “good industrial practices and clear communication between employees and employers”.