The island’s largest public sector trade union is proposing an expansion of the essential items that are eligible for a price cap under any new compact arrangement between government and the business community.
The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) said on Thursday that it supports in principle an extension of the social compact that expired on Tuesday where more than 40 specially-selected items sold by supermarkets were reduced in price. It however suggests that other essential products should be added this time around.
“Of course, we would like to see an expansion of it… expansion in the sense of goods that are listed and for continuous assessment for areas where price reductions can be extended on what we would consider essential items.
“There is still room for expansion of what could be termed essential items,” general secretary of the NUPW Richard Greene told Barbados TODAY.
On Tuesday, the day the compact was scheduled to expire, government and retailers continued to explore a possible extension of the deal beyond the original January 31 deadline.
On that same day, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) said it was awaiting word from the government’s team on how the new compact arrangement would be implemented since many businesses reported that the original contract did not work in their favour.
Contacted on Thursday evening, Branker said the chamber had still not received word from Government on a proposal from the retail sector on what a new compact would look like.
“We have been negotiating with Senior Minister [Kerrie] Symmonds on this matter and we have laid some proposals before government, so we are waiting for them to come back to us,” Branker had said.
Today, the NUPW boss was adamant that any arrangement that results in easing the financial burden on his members and the public in general, would get the union’s backing.
“We support the principle [of an extended compact] because the NUPW was represented on the committee which had selected the 40-something odd items that were to have the price reductions. Anything that can ease the financial burden on our members and the public, especially in circumstances of the persistency in price increases, the NUPW in principle supports,” Greene maintained.
In late December 2022, the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) and the BCCI said they were open to discussions with the government on the compact signed last July to keep stable pricing on 47 items for a six-month period.
However, chairman of the BPSA Trisha Tannis reported that several businesses had recorded some losses as a result of the measure, and they would have to determine whether they could afford to maintain prices at the current level.
In addition to the compact on some goods, the Value Added Tax [VAT] had been removed from some items and duty had been taken off some citrus produce.
Poultry farmers have already indicated that they are not to be included in any compact extension.