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Barbados Labour Party St. Michael West candidate Joseph Atherley says that the story of the previous Owen Arthur administration in the communities throughout St. Michael had been its efforts to address poverty eradication.

Speaking last night at a political meeting on Bank Hall Main Road, St. Michael, Atherley, who lost the St. Michael West seat in the 2008 general elections, said dysfunctional family life was a contributor to and feature of the persistence of poverty in the island. He said that a new Owen Arthur administration had to find the means to address dysfunctional families and to put financial resources at the disposal of such families to alleviate their circumstances.

He said that “poor, urban working class families” in St. Michael and wider Barbados found it difficult to find the capital to address their plight and it was necessary for Government to provide the assistance to reverse their difficult situation. He noted that the previous Owen Arthur administration had provided assistance to public servants, inclusive of financial assistance and access to counselling, that led to them being more productive at their jobs and to reducing the stresses of their domestic lives.

Noting that another social dynamic of poverty was unemployment, Atherley said while canvassing the St. Michael West situation he had encountered households where “over the last four or five years” no one in the household had been employed. He gave one example where he had met a family of seven in St. Michael West where everyone in the home was of working age but none of them had a job. He said such situations induced poverty in the island and impacted negatively on the quality of family life.

He said that where Government found situations where no one in a household was employed, that administration should have to put systems in place where it was compulsory for the state to put some level of income at the disposal of such families to assist them with dealing with the stresses that poverty brought to their lives.

“We should remove from this landscape forever the spectre of poor households where nobody is working,” he said.

Atherley noted that there existed economic relationships in Barbados where women were drawn into relationships with men because of the financial assistance which they offered to them and in some cases, their children. He said that often when men could not provide for their own children it affected their relationship with the mothers of those children.

He explained that a bad economy eventually led to men being “denuded of their masculinity” and their inability to provide for their families. He said irrespective of what anyone had to say men and people generally needed to have money in their pockets to address their social needs and it was incumbent on a Government to respond to such situations to bring about positive change.

Atherley noted that another aspect of poverty in St. Michael was a situation where women headed households and were subject to a situation of low wages, long hours of work, harsh working conditions, exploitation, sexual harassment and insensitive management. He said these women suffered in silence and in 2013 it was a circumstance that Government had to address. He said that a BLP administration had to hold a position that such situations had to come to an end. (WG)

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