Minister: Need for consultation

As workers at the NCC, as well as in other sections of the public sector, remain uncertain of their future employment, the country’s Minister of Labour is calling for human resources practitioners in both the private and public sector to become more familiar with the Social Partnership protocol.

byer suckoo
Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo

Senator Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo made the call on the eve of Labour Day celebration tomorrow.

“I think that everyone has been digesting the Employment Rights Act and rightly so [but] we still have a protocols as well that speak to a spirit of consultation prior to actions being taken.  That goes for everybody.

“I think we need to go back to those principles that have been embodied in there and that have allowed Barbados to maintain a fairly stable economic industrial and even political climate.

“Yes, the Employment Rights Act speaks to a time limit, but it is not just an exercise that says we sit here for six weeks but the spirit that says we sit here for six weeks looking for the best possible solution for all concerned.  The company as well as the workers.  That is where we need to get back to,” she said.

Those comments come too as a proposed seventh protocol of the Social Partnership is again on the back burner.

“Normally we would do a new protocol.  In [its] absence, we would do a resolution to extend the protocol and as we are looking at the Social Partnership and extending that protocol, there has been a call for all the partners to also revisit the spirit of the protocol.  Not just to sign it for the sake of extending it, but actually revisit why we have it and what it is there to do, who it is there to protect, what it actually says about our going forward and our consulting on things which include dismissals and retrenchment and general Industrial Relations practices and so on,” she said.

The Minister of Labour stressed that hat was being looked at was “not a new protocol”.

“A new protocol take a while to develop, there is a lot that is happening in Barbados that is going to take us a while to have a new protocol, but revisiting the spirit of Protocol six and as we look to extend it,” she said.

Protocol VI of the Social Partnership was extended last year during a brief ceremony at which Prime Minister Freundel Stuart noted that Protocol VII would come on stream this year.

He said then that: “ordinarily, we would have been signing Protocol VII in the month of May 2013, but negotiations in respect of Protocol VII have not yet been completed, so that Protocol VII was not ready for signing at the beginning of May and therefore, we’ve had to do the usual resolution to allow the provisions of Protocol VI to continue to govern the relationship between workers, employers and government in the Social Partnership, until such time as the new protocol is ready,”

“The agreement therefore is that we will extend Protocol VI for a year, with the intention that by May 2014, Protocol VII should be ready for signature. But there would have been no hiatus in the Social Partnership and in the spirit that governs the Social Partnership, while the provisions
of Protocol VII are being settled.”

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