Six month action plan
Social partners back 24 hour work strategy
The Social Partnership has been given six months to agree on a mechanism to transition Barbados into a full-fledged 24/7 business society.
The announcement was made this morning by Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss, who chaired a meeting of the 24 Hour Committee comprising Government, the private sector and labour at his Baobab Towers ministry.
“Six months is the time frame given for agreeing on the environment necessary for Barbados to become a true 24/7 society; not that we will have laws amended in six months, or that we would have structures in place in every area,” pointed out Inniss.
“The bottom line is this is a matter we cannot keep talking about. We have to do something now and we recognise that support services will be very critical as we move towards that area,” he added.
Flanked by president of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) Cedric Murrell, chairman of the Barbados Employers Confederation (BEC) Ian Gooding-Edgehill and his executive director Tony Walcott and chief executive officer of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries (BCSI) Lisa Cummins, he told a post-meeting Press conference that the discussions were “very” productive, with all stakeholders agreeing that the main objective was to make this country the most productive and competitive in the world.
“We recognise therefore that we need to do things within our individual domain as well as collectively to achieve such. One of the key components to our mind is having a society, an environment whereby businesses can work and be open longer hours to meet the demands, not only of our local clientele, but also of the international clientele that we have to interface with,” said Inniss.
The minister committed his Government to creating the right environment to facilitate this initiative, while collaborating with the labour movement and private sector to ensure its success.
“Discussion also centred not just on extending hours, but how we can boost efficiency and productivity within our specific areas and recognising therefore that ICT is going to be very key to us being more accessible and more efficient both in public and private sectors,” Inniss stated.
“Arising from the discussion this morning, we have agreed to break the group into three separate teams to address specific issues under those areas. One will deal with the legal and regulatory environment necessary to have Barbados become a 24/7 society, looking at the current legislation, looking at any defficiencies in it, bearing in mind the ultimate objectives being a very productive and very efficient and competitive society.
“The other one would have looked at the support services necessary and we certainly would have benefitted from the input of the Barbados hotel and tourism sector, for example, and the services sector represented by Miss [Lisa] Cummins that would reflect on what currently exists now that there are actually a sizeable part of our economy and society that are functioning 24/7.”
The third team will be led by the Ministry of the Civil Service officers and will address the ICT challenges and opportunities that will present themselves in a 24/7 society, Inniss said.
He said all the stakeholders were committed to making a paradym shift.
President of CTUSAB Cedric Murrell sanctioned the intiative as he saw it as opening opportunities for greater productivity and more jobs and earnings for workers.
Acknowledging too that the meeting was productive, he observed that all stakeholders approached the discussions with Barbados at the centre and how to make the country and its people better.
Murrell said, though, that a 24/7 work week would have certain implications which must be carefully examined going forward. However, he suggested that everyone must consider the greater good of the country, even with overtime likely to have a financial impact on businesses.
Chairman of the BEC Ian Goodin-Edgehill also praised the minister for bringing together the various stakeholders and having the three committees set up to deal with the transition.
“We are mindful there would be some challenges and I thought that this morning’s meeting provided the platform for us to go forward to have some of those issues that we have identified.
CEO of the BCSI Lisa Cummins also described the talks as productive. Cummins, who will chair the support services committee, will be working with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Aassociation , Barbados Tourism Investment Incorporated and Government representatives.
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