Being a public servant for almost half a century, and involved with labour relations for 44 of those years, retiring Chief Labour Officer, Vincent Burnett, was described as a ‘conciliator of note’, when he was honoured earlier this week by the National Insurance Scheme (NIS).
Burnett’s name featured prominently among the 2016 honourees at a Christmas Awards ceremony of that government agency, which has a responsibility for workers’ welfare. Burnett served as a director of the NIS since 2001.
“A stickler for detail and dedicated commitment to duty characterized his work ethic. Those characteristics . . . enabled him to take on the role of ILO Desk Officer and [become] involved in the department’s annual estimates preparation,” said MC Allison Harewood as she read out the citation for Burnett at the Hilton Monday evening.
“He also developed a reputation as a conciliator of note, all the while being an exemplary labour officer. Moving through the ranks of the department, in 2009 Burnett emerged as Chief Labour Officer, becoming the department’s second home-grown chief,” Harewood said of the man who entered the public service in 1970.
Burnett, who has been on pre-retirement leave since September, expressed delight at being able to serve the NIS, Labour Department and country. “I just wish that National Insurance goes from strength to strength. And I hope that the investment portfolio would be expanded,” he said.
Expansion of its investment to spread and reduce the risk to workers’ money has always been a goal of the NIS, which has over the years seen most of its funds being borrowed by one entity, the Government of Barbados. The borrowed amount stood at $3.3 billion as of September this year, according the latest Central Bank’s quarterly economic report.
Delivering featured remarks, Minister of Labour, Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo conceded that the NIS had ‘missed some targets”, without stating what these were. She however insisted that NIS has much to celebrate as it approaches its 50th anniversary next year.
Byer-Suckoo congratulated Burnett and other long service awardees “who we acknowledge this evening for your service, not only this year, but throughout the many years that you’ve served the National Insurance”.
NIS staff who gave from 10 to 30 years of service were honoured at the function.