President of the umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) Cedric Murrell today questioned the move by Government to extend the retirement age beyond 65, suggesting that it was a “bad thing” for the country.
As a result of pension reform started in 2003, the pensionable age has been increasing by six months every four years from January 1, 2006, until it reaches 67 in January 2018 for unreduced pensions.
But in making his contribution to the 11th annual Ministry of Finance lecture series on the topic Development: Does it Build a Society? at the Courtyard by Marriott today, Murrell said: “I will tell you that I understand the change in retirement age to 67 was because of the pressure on the National Insurance, but it was a bad thing for Barbados.”
While stating that issue was debatable, he argued that there was a need for more “youthful brains” at this country’s helm, while publicly signalling his intention to step down from the presidency of CTUSAB by next September.
“I will tell you, I am determined and I have expressed within the Congress two years ago that I wanted to give up the leadership but nobody has come forward, [but] I have said to them whether anybody comes forward or not I am gone September coming, because that is the end of the term and I can go before,” the veteran trade unionist said.
Before an audience that included retired trade unionist and CARICOM Ambassador Robert Bobby Morris, Murrell, who has been the president of the CTUSAB since 2010 and also served as co-chairman between 1992 and 1994 when that association was known as the Coalition, admitted that he was currently running out of new ideas.
He also recalled that the island’s Social Partnership was started in the early 1990’s with young people at the helm, while stressing that it was it was time for another young brigade to take over the mantle.
“So understand, for you young people, the question of what happens to the Social Partnership is yours to take and carry. It is not for me because I was there when it started and right now I am running out of ideas as to where to carry it,” Murrell confessed, while urging the next generation of leaders to come forward.
“When people like Bobby and myself were in our late teens and early 20’s we were grabbing leadership. I was not afraid to step forward and say ‘this is what we want to happen,’” he said.
“The point I am making is that the opportunity is there for you to build and develop this society. Grasp them. I do agree that people like me really need to go home. Not to go home to waste away, but to accept and understand that you can draw on my experience and you can take it or leave it,” he added.
Suggesting that many of the challenges faced by young people today were not new, the veteran trade unionist and trained air traffic controller said it was about finding the right fix.
In this view he further encouraged the youth, saying “if it is that we are not giving you the opportunity, tell us so and send us home, but I am saying that when we look at the leaders of our society going back 50 years most of those people were in their 20s [when they started]. And people got to be permanent secretaries in this country in their late 20s and early 30s. Now they are getting there in their 50s and some in their 40s, but not many.
“What I am saying is that this country was developed certainly at that time, by the youthful brains. Perhaps our challenge is to get back there,” he stressed.