The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) is sticking to its guns on the dreaded National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL).
In her review of the year 2017, BWU General Secretary Toni Moore today identified the controversial levy, which was increased on July 1 from two per cent to ten per cent on the customs value of local manufactured and imported items, as one of the most troubling issues to impact workers this year.
Calling it “draconian and cumbersome”, Moore also served notice on the Freundel Stuart Government that her union would be stepping up the pressure to either have it either repealed or significantly reduced in the coming year.
“When we reflect, this one was one that was particularly troubling for the trade union movement because we remain of the view that while there were some measures that were necessary that would cause us some pain, this particular tax was particularly draconian and cumbersome. I say it is still our view,” the BWU leader said.
Moore, whose BWU has been clamouring for a 15 per cent pay increase for its members, also said while “it may be difficult for people to have an increase, there is a definite cry among those we represent to have the burden of taxation that impacts on the disposable income of people to have that reduced, if not removed.
“We recognize we wouldn’t be able to remove everything, but it is going to be our continual fight to make sure we ease that burden on people going forward,” the union boss emphasized.
In announcing the tax hike in his May 2017 Budget, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had said that move would result in “increased revenue of $291 million for a full financial year and $218 million for the remaining nine months of the current fiscal year”.
However, the tax has become the subject of widespread protests, with local unions joining with the private sector back in July in strongly condemning the recent increase.
Since then, Government has promised a review of the tax, but no changes have been forthcoming to date, even though the union has been insisting that a reasonable coping subsidy must be offered to workers to help them deal with the increased financial burden.