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BWU ‘making progress’ in mission economy drive

by Emmanuel Joseph
4 min read

The island’s largest private sector trade union has reported progress in achieving the six objectives of the Declaration of Mission Barbados signed on Labour Day last year.

The declaration, endorsed by the tripartite Social Partnership of labour, business and government, sets Barbados on a mission to become a clean and beautiful large-ocean state by 2030, championing sustainable development locally and globally – with the goal of all domestic activities becoming 100 per cent sustainable by 2035.

The Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) – one of the key Social Partners – announced on Friday it was on its way to achieving the objectives that related to the workforce.

The Barbados Mission Economy is the plan to pivot the economy to achieve these goals. The Declaration of Mission Barbados, announced by Prime Minister Mia Mottley at the May Day Rally, joined by the BWU and representatives of the private sector, high school teachers and public workers, set a series of goalposts to steer the country in the coming years.

The tripartite body also agreed that in six years, Barbados should be transformed into a country of active, involved citizens; ensuring that every Barbadian has affordable, equitable and reliable access to clean water and nutritious food; prioritising wellness and happiness by improving public health and safety; empowering and enfranchising all Barbadian workers and families; and a high-functioning, resilient society with seamless access to services and meaningful digital inclusion for all residents.

BWU General Secretary Toni Moore said that since the signing, there have been “a few” meetings with the social partners to discuss how each stakeholder would pursue the six missions.

“In the area of food security, the union has moved, at least, towards commissioning the set up of a shade house…because, one of the things that we have been committed to doing, which is also consistent with our plan as outlined in the 80th delegates conference of the union, is to expand the offerings at the [BWU] Labour College,” Moore told Barbados TODAY.

She said the new offerings will cover non-labour related courses “that major a difference to the common man, to the average man.”

“We have secured the shade house at the Labour College, yet to be installed, so that we can commence the teaching of those courses, when by July 1, we should have that set up,” she revealed.

Moore declared that through no fault of its own, the union has lagged behind in the teaching of renewable energy.

“The union, also two May Days ago . . . signed a memorandum of understanding with BNOCL [Barbados National Oil Company Limited] and Emera, towards the establishment of a solar farm.

“And because of a number of regulatory issues that have less to do with the BWU itself, that project has slowed, but it is still very much in train to ensure that we not only have a solar farm set up that would increase our energy efficiency, but a core part of that is the education of our members and interest persons in renewable energy,” she updated.

On the mission of a clean environment, Moore said the union has re-established an “expanded” workplace safety and health group, now called the Occupational Safety Health Wellness and the Environment (OSHWE) Committee. 

“A big part of their mandate is to consider issues of the environment. For instance, the heat, the rapidly changing weather patterns, to inform us on where we need to look at collective agreements to expand them,” the union boss said.

She disclosed that, for example, the union may now have to negotiate for more heat-friendly uniforms. The BWU is also seeking to ensure there is a social protection platform that is readily available to spring into action when changing weather patterns also impact the world of work, she added.

“We saw it in COVID,” Moore explained. “COVID wasn’t a weather pattern, for instance. But COVID was one of those situations where nobody could have predicted that it was coming…the extent to which it was coming, and we needed a strong social protection system in place.”

“The work in progress is definitely there. I think we are well on the way toward the achievement of the goals in 2030.”

Declaring that the private sector is fully on board, the BWU general secretary said the union backs the business community’s call for more meetings to advance the mission agenda.

“In response, the government, at the level of the sub-committee of the Social Partnership, has now been spurred into action,” said Moore.


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