Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo has made a strong appeal to stakeholders not to allow politics to divide the social partnership.
Dr Byer-Suckoo this morning told the opening of a workshop on social dialogue organized by the Barbados Employers Confederation, the Caribbean Employers Confederation and the International Labour Organization at the Courtyard by Marriott in Hastings, Christ Church, it was important to put aside political preferences when sitting around the table to discuss the country’s development.
“Many at the table, for example, in the social partnership arrangement, would have their own political affiliation . . . .Indeed many have political aspirations, but at the end of the day, because of our political stability, we have to put Barbados first. For most of the time we put aside our political perspectives . . . yes we take them up again and then after the general election, we realize that exercise is done, now we have to move on to getting Barbados developed,” she said, adding that the country was too small to have a political divide.
The minister said while the social partnership has had its challenges and fallouts over the past 25 years, it has still been able to oversee some economic growth in recent years, as well as a decline in unemployment and the deficit.
She also identified a number of principles on which the social partnership has been built and which have been tested from time to time.
These include respect, she said, which “can be a little fragile and delicate, but we must continue to work at building that respect”.
“When we come to the table we must be able to come as equals,” the minister told the gathering.
“Trust is also quite key . . . [and] if anybody is going to attempt social dialogue, you need a formal social partnership arrangement,” Dr Byer-Suckoo stressed.
At the same time, she warned that the country’s political stability could be in jeopardy if it is not guarded jealously.
She contended that while Barbados’ political stability was the envy of the world, there was a danger of it being lost to partisan politics.
“We would see administrations change over our 51 years and before, but our Government process continues . . . our society, our community continues. That kind of political stability is something that I would encourage all of us to hold onto. It is something we have to guard jealously because if we are not careful, we could lose it,” Dr Byer-Suckoo suggested. (EJ)