Strong partnership

PM Stuart signs Protocol VI.
PM Stuart signs Protocol VI.

It will be another year before Government and its partners in the private sector and trade union movement are able to sign a new agreement officially signalling their intent to cooperate.

But Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and other members of the Social Partnership made it clear today that the tripartite body’s future was assured.

The commitment came this morning at the signing of a resolution extending the sixth protocol while a new one is being negotiated for signing by May 2014.

Speaking during the brief ceremony at Government Headquarters, Stuart said such an extension was not unusual and suggested it should not be cause for concern.

“We continue to value very highly this Social Partnership as it continues to mature and continues to deepen and therefore we accord it the seriousness which we think it deserves, having regard to the fact that it has played so critical a role in the stabilisation of the relationship between workers, employers and the state,” he said.

It is now not just an institution relevant to domestic consumption, it has now become an institution for export as other countries have sought the guidance of Barbados on how to put in place their own Social Partnership.”

The Prime Minister also said that while he was “not privy to the state of the negotiations of Protocol VII”, he expected that in the context of the current “very dynamic and swiftly changing … economic (and) social environment”, the partners would “take account of the changes taking place and try to incorporate them into Protocol VII so that it would be a living document relevant to the needs of the society over the two year period for which it would be applicable”.

Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados President, Cedric Murrell, said with the extension of the existing protocol the labour movement remained committed to its implementation.

“Protocol VI contains very many developmental tools in terms of our intent to be able to carry our country forward.

We intend to use the protocol as a mechanism that allows for the development of our country in the circumstances now where we are challenged to ensure levels of growth that will allow prosperity,” he stated.

“Other countries within this region and outside are interested in the elements that exist in this country that allows for this type of cooperation. We are not selfish and therefore we intend to share what the protocol means to us and what fashioned for other people can be for them.

Barbados Private Sector Association Chairman, John Williams, pledged the private sector continue to work with labour and private sector “in the best interest of Barbados”.

“We fully endorse and support the signing of this extension of Protocol VI. We believe that the protocols have over the last two decades been central to the development of our country, both social as well as economic development, but we must also remember that the original protocol came out of a very difficult economic time and we face now difficult economic times of a different nature,” he said.

“But just as the persons who were there 20 years ago worked on what they had and developed those things that needed to be developed as new approaches to address the problems that faced us, I am sure that we can do the same…”

In addition to these three officials, others signing the Protocol VI extension this morning including Minister of Labour Senator Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, Barbados Workers Union General Secretary, Senator Sir Roy Trotman, National Union of Public Workers President, Walter Maloney, and Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry President, Lalu Vaswani. (SC)

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