For four days the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) was engaged tirelessly in discussions to ensure that the Government’s objectives of creating fiscal space and generating economic activity could find congruence with its own concerns to ease the burden for workers in the Public Sector.
That was the number one goal of the BWU, all the while pursuing efforts to ensure that safe conditions exist for people to get back to meaningful work in the shortest possible space of time.
The Union’s commitment was to make sure that those who simply could not commit to anything that would add pressure to their liquidity position would not be denied money in hand. Its arguments challenged that whilst savings are desirable, it should not be forced to the detriment of other personal arrangements.
The most recent iteration of the proposal, now called the Barbados Optional Savings Scheme (BOSS), which was presented to the public last evening is considered by the Executive Council of the BWU as one which places it in the zone of possible agreement. It represents an improvement on the original proposal, which was first presented on Monday, May 25, 2020 and differs significantly from the many speculative positions which have preoccupied the public’s attention for the past two (2) weeks.
The BWU is now satisfied that the proposal on the table is one which commits to a method that could achieve the Government’s objective while also making provision for people to opt-in or opt-out as their individual circumstances would permit. Workers can commit to increase or decrease their bonds or simply opt to have all bonds converted to cash.
At a snapshot:
1. There is no job loss
2. There is no salary cut
3. There is no loss of cash in hand unless the worker opts to keep their bonds for an 18-month period
4. There is an interest on savings which will benefit public servants who can afford to save
5. Public servants get the right to first refusal, failing which there is an opportunity for other individuals and financial institutions to take advantage of the savings opportunity
The Executive Council of the BWU regards the proposal as a solid attempt to address the concerns of Government and its employees and will be urging its members to keep an open mind as they consider individually, what works best for them.
As a representative body, the BWU is happy to have been able to influence the discussions in a direction that can satisfy a broad range of interests. These deliberations provided a good example of what is possible when employers open the door for meaningful engagement with workers and their representatives. Even where owners and managers think that they know what is best, there is always an opportunity for something better to emerge. Against that backdrop, the BWU has not given final sign off ahead of the mass meetings which have been arranged to take place during the coming week.
The Executive Council of the BWU remains committed to working through explanations, clarifications, and refinements of the proposal as discussions continue with its constituents.
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