The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) is still not satisfied that enough Barbadians are reaping the gains from the island’s ongoing economic turnaround.
In her New Year’s message, BWU general secretary Senator Toni Moore expressed concern that while there has been notable improvement in several areas, citizens are still under much strain.
“We reflect on a year ago when we had to be engaged in very painful negotiations that saw many people separated from their livelihoods. Today, many of these have not been able to transition into new gainful employment nor have they been the beneficiaries of the retraining and retooling which was committed to, to prepare and support them for new opportunities which could arise,” she said.
Moore, who also commended the Government for completing its external debt restructuring exercise and its recent positive reports from international rating agencies and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), however cautioned that economic indicators beyond the narrow scope of GDP must be become real.
“Too many people are not seeing GDP growth [turn] into improved livelihoods, wellbeing and progress. Our people need to be able to observe the complementary indicators:- job growth, employment- improved living standards – garbage and water, improved health and care services.
Looking ahead to the new year, the BWU boss expressed concern that it had not “observed any real attempt to improve the regulation and protection of workers’ rights beyond the promises for paternity leave legislation and adjustments to the minimum wage.
She stressed: “More is necessary to assure workers of an adequate living wage, hours of work and safe and healthy workplaces. We look forward to extending our resources wherever they are required to ensure that such is the case.”
Moore highlighted that the BWU was anxious to see resolution to the long-running dispute with G4S saying that the union wanted to see a decline in the “sham arrangements” used by companies to deny rights and entitlements to their workforce.
“We think of G4S and the sham arrangement that continues to call workers’ stewards. This matter is singled out because it is before the Ministry of Labour for five years now and must be resolved once and for all. We cannot allow this and other arrangements that reverse fairness and equity at work, and lead to increasing inequality which is the reality today.
She added that the union was also hopeful of better fortunes for workers at UCAL and workers at the Transport Board who took up the offer to become owners to facilitate the government in its effort to transform the efficiency of the Transport Board.