The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) has not endorsed the much-touted Barbados Sustainable Recovery Plan 2018 (BSRP).
General Secretary Toni Moore broke her silence today on the new economic strategy laid in Parliament by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler earlier this month ahead of last week’s debate on the Estimates of Expenditure and Revenue.
In a strongly-worded statement on the matter, Moore sought to “settle the score on a few issues”, while making it clear that comments attributed to her union on Page 8 of the actual BSRP document were nothing more “than the union’s good faith undertaking and commitment to any recovery exercise for Barbados”.
Her comments come against the backdrop of repeated claims by Government officials that the BSRP had the full backing of the Social Partnership, which is made up of the private sector, trade unions and Government.
The latest such claims came during this week’s debate on the Appropriation Bill 2018 in the Upper House from Government senators, including Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Finance Senator Jeptor Ince and Senator Andre Worrell who all suggested that the Opposition Barbados Labour Party was the only group not supporting the recovery plan.
However, Moore has disputed those suggestions, while cautioning that “discussions now have to be had toward the decisions that would form the basis of an implementation plan”, and insisting that “we are NOT there yet”.
With general elections around the corner, the union boss further cautioned Barbadians to be “weary of those who have mastered the Machiavellian art of paltering where lies are told by telling the truth” while publicly declaring that all was definitely not well within the tripartite body.
She also accused the Freundel Stuart administration of using the Social Partnership as nothing more than a ‘tool of convenience” in the lead up to the pending general elections.
“The Social Partnership which the Chairman [Stuart] has not been allowing to function meaningfully and efficiently, should now be regarded as a tool of convenience in a ‘night before the big day’ effort to persuade different publics, that all is well within the Social Partnership, Moore said, adding “that is not true unless references are being made to a Social Partnership that exists without the BWU”.
Moore further explained the position taken by her union in the BSRP document saying, “We were careful to ensure that this union, as the largest representative voice for labour, could demonstrate our clear support for any effort for a sustainable recovery.
“We were also concerned to have the public at large understand that our formally expressed support was no more than a commitment to working to address those broad areas of the plan where the BWU could meaningfully render assistance.
“We recognized as well that real effort toward final decisions for implementation in a number of areas would require decisive action from a Government with a mandate for the next two to five years. Yet, we accepted and supported the plan on the basis that it represented only a broad framework and stipulated no clear prescriptions or decisions for implementation,” she said, while pointing out that when the Social Partnership last met on August 11, 2017, the BWU had insisted that any meaningful attempt to fix the ailing economy would require a broad based task force that included Opposition representation.
She also said while members of the Social Partnership had agreed to the establishment of an oversight committee set up by the Prime Minister to chart the way forward, that committee had only met on two occasions during the last two weeks of August last year to establish how it should function.
Therefore, Moore said, the BWU was forced to withdraw from that process given that there was no progress in sight.
“The BWU had to lament that while it recognized the effort to be a herculean one, the half answers to questions, the incomplete summaries for others and generally the total lack of knowledge regarding the political priorities which were being pursued did not make the best use of our time.
“So that when instead of a meeting at the level of the Social Partnership, another set of meetings was introduced under the frame of a committee to discuss the BSRP 2018, the BWU excused itself from those meetings,” Moore explained, adding that as far as the BWU was aware no further work had been undertaken by the oversight committee.
“If there has been further effort, it would mean either that the BWU has been left out, or that the union is yet to receive an update,” she stressed.