Industrial action could setback economy, warns Sinckler
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler is worried that if not quickly resolved, the current industrial action being taken by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has the potential to undermine the island’s economy.
Speaking to the media at the end of the Lawson Weekes Educational Scholarship Programme held this morning at Almond Bay, Hastings, Christ Church, Sinckler admitted the gains which the country had made in recent times were in jeopardy of being reversed.
“Any industrial disruption is unwelcomed. It is not something that one would prefer to see. Of course the workers and their representatives are within their rights to protest, or to agitate, or to withdraw labour if it gets to that in defence of a position or in promotion of a position, so we can’t take that away, that’s just the system we have.
“But from an economic perspective, it is not something that we want to prolong or to have prolonged for any extended period of time, because it could have an impact on productivity and it can also have an impact in relation particularly to tourism because we have the SSA workers who are reportedly off their job,” the Minister warned.
“These are things that we have to be very sensitive to, and to ensure that the gains which we have made and that have continued into some extent into the second quarter of this year, that those are not reversed.”
Sinckler noted that presently around the world, countries were finding it increasingly difficult to function efficiently in what he described as a “volatile environment”.
To this extent, he said Barbados had to be very careful not to engage in any activity which could hamper its own development.
“The environment is not getting increasingly better, it’s getting a little volatile,” Sinckler said, while pointing to what was happening in Greece, a slowdown of the Canadian and Chinese economies and the crash of the stock market.
“We have seen other developments which do not promote confidence in the global economy continuing its expansion. So we have to be very mindful and very careful of what we do.”
However, Sinckler was confident that a solution would soon be found, paving the way for “a return to normalcy in the country”.
“These issues are issues of industrial and labour relations and I think those issues can be resolved. But they have to be resolved with compromise on all the sides. You are never going to be able to have an issue resolved if everybody sticks their heels into the ground and decides they are not compromising,” he maintained.
The NUPW is demanding that the Barbados Investment Development Corporation (BIDC) either rescind the letters they sent to 10 employees who were retired at the age of 60, or pay them until they reach the retirement age of 67.
The refusal of the BIDC to do so, has so far resulted in a national protest march, which took place last Monday, as well as an ongoing strike by employees of the Sanitation Service Authority.