Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by this author are their own and do not represent the official position of the Barbados Today.
Without labour nothing prospers – Sophocles (circa 497/6 – 406/5) Greek playwright.
by Michael Ray
Somebody needs to explain why there is such an entrenched culture of separating workers from organisations immediately prior to or just after a change in management/ownership of businesses.
For decades, Barbadians have witnessed consistent changes in management and ownership, combined with increasing levels of unemployment within the business sector. It seems as though neither workers nor the National Insurance Fund have any protection against the wholesale loss of jobs and the resultant drawing down on unemployment benefits.
Are discussions held about staff matters and the long-term survival of workers who often join the long queues of unemployed persons seeking benefits that last for no more than a few months, sometimes weeks?
For the chairman of Caves of Barbados Limited Ralph Thorne to simply say, “We have brought all of the contracts of employment to an end” and then to add that he hopes he can confidently say Chukka will take over a staff of happy people can hardly inspire confidence or bring happiness to the 60 persons not sure of future employment opportunities.
The loss of employment does not have to be a regular feature when there are changes in management and ownership. There is too much at stake with too much to lose in too many areas and at too many levels. In such circumstances, losses continue to be felt at the individual level by a disappearance of earnings, a loss of PAYE revenue for the Treasury, no contributions to the National Insurance Scheme, a reduction in the cycle of economic activity, shrinkage in gross domestic product and the continuing contraction of the economy.
In this COVID-19 climate, policy and decision makers must be careful not to exacerbate the unemployment situation at any cost. Policy and decision makers should avoid making contributions to artificial cyclical unemployment; business trends and market conditions already contribute their fair share to the unemployment pendulum.
It is timely that this letter-writer makes another call for the establishment of a National Investment Council that includes the voice of “labour” – capital and labour apart cannot be successful. More than 2,000 years ago, Greek playwright Sophocles knew only too well that without labour nothing prospers. More has to be done so that “labour” can be protected.