Economist Sir Frank Alleyne has listed poor work ethic, complicity by trade unions and “irresponsible” politicians and the “aborting” of the national productivity board for the less than favourable productivity levels here.
Addressing last Friday’s Democratic Labour Party lunchtime lecture at the party’s George Street, Belleville, St Michael headquarters, Sir Frank charged that some union leaders were encouraging unproductive workers whose only interest was in receiving a pay cheques.
“Lots of people use the union because they want pay and no work . . . . Not all of them are like that but too many are like that. They want to be paid for turning up and they don’t have to be in the union,” he said in his presentation on Fiscal Consolidation in Small Developing Economies.
Referring to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017, in which Barbados was ranked 72nd out of 138 countries, Sir Frank said he was disappointed that Barbados had fallen behind less developed countries.
“No Bajan should be proud of that,” the former chairman of Government’s advisory council on the economy said.
In 2014 Barbados was ranked 55th. The country was not included in the report for 2015.
Sir Frank said it was “an indictment on Barbados” that the 2016 report had found that “Bajans are disconnected from work”, something he said some of the country’s politicians had encouraged.
“Our very strength 20/30 years ago now is one of our greatest weaknesses. And I dare say we have some irresponsible politicians who will encourage people in this foolishness to turn up but not for work. They must go out in the road in the midday sun protesting. So there is a lot we have to deal with,” Sir Frank said.
This notwithstanding, it was the dissolution of the national productivity board that occupied most of the retired academic’s attention on this issue.
He said the board was to have worked with the private sector and Government to develop performance-related pay strategies, with a governance system established in every organization to evaluate performance.
“If that was done and follow through [and] properly managed we would never be in a situation today where when you look back at the last 20 years, pay increases but ahead of productivity improvements. What that has done to us is put us at a competitive disadvantage . . . . It meant that it gave the rest of the region an opportunity to beat us in our own markets right here in Barbados. That is what it means. By aborting it you created an environment where people started, some areas of the trade unions, some leaders had the opportunity to introduce into bargaining tactics of the middle ages,” Sir Frank explained.