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Not so fast, Mr President

A Government minister today chastised the leadership of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) for raising objections to the new Shops Act 2015 whilst, at the same time, acknowledging ignorance of the details of the legislation.

Passed in the House of Assembly on Tuesday night, the new legislation provides for longer opening hours for retail businesses which previously operated from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The measure supports the plan to make Barbados a 24-hour society.

Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, took NUPW President Akanni McDowall to task over the matter in an interview with Barbados TODAY.

“Where has he been living when the State was engaging the unions and private sector since 2005 on these issues? Where was he when the Bill was placed on the Order Paper of Parliament and debated in the Senate?” Inniss asked.

He went on: “Where was he and the NUPW when the union representatives in the Senate spoke in support of the Bill? Has the leadership of the NUPW even taken time to read the Bill? It does not seem that way.”

Following passage of the Bill, McDowall told Barbados TODAY he wanted Inniss to sit with the NUPW and discuss workers’ concerns about the measure since the union was in the dark regarding details of the new legislation.

Under the new legislation, shops are allowed to open for business between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays to Sundays and to open on most public holidays, except Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Independence Day and Christmas. The legislation also addressed issues of health and safety.

Inniss suggested to the NUPW leadership that it should have a conversation with the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) since that union, which represents the majority of workers in the private sector, “has taken a more mature approach to these matters”.

The BWU in the past welcomed the move towards a 24-hour society but asked that concerns related to safety and security first be addressed.

Describing McDowall’s acknowledged ignorance of the bill as “simply amazing”, Inniss further asked: “Is the NUPW objecting to expanded job opportunities for Bajans? Do they object to a law that says that workers must have proper lavatory facilities, drinking water, lunchrooms, seats, ventilation and general comfortable work environment? Is the NUPW objecting to a law that requires adequate safety and transportation for workers?”

Inniss reminded McDowall that many NUPW members in the public sector have been working in a 24/7 environment “for many decades”, including Immigration, Customs and health care workers.

“I am sorry, Mr. President of the NUPW, but Barbados just has to progress into the 21st century and beyond, not sit in a 19th century mode,” Inniss said.

The minister extended an invitation to the NUPW, nevertheless, to meet with him “anytime and anywhere” so he could “engage with them on these issues”. “Bring members, not just a handful of handpicked executives,” he urged the union. (MM)

10 Responses to Not so fast, Mr President

  1. Philip Matthews
    Philip Matthews November 27, 2015 at 6:05 am

    it can decrease unemployment , but you still have to make sure works rights are protected , religion of a person has to be looked at when sorting the shift sheet

    • Bernard Codrington. November 27, 2015 at 9:56 am

      It could get worse with people who do not want to live in the24hour society been deemed unemployable.

  2. dave November 27, 2015 at 7:28 am

    Mouth of the South (St.James) opens his mouth again and seems to want to get into a shouting match against NUPW suggesting in his pronouncements that he has all the answers. That everything is perfect and workers should not be concerned. Arrogance at its zenith in trying to insult the President.

  3. Cheryl A Rollins
    Cheryl A Rollins November 27, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Philip Matthews that is the problem with these ministers. There are hasty to pass legislation without considering all the factors relative to the issue. So many barriers to consider and structures to put in place yet still they proceed willy nilly. I find the minister’s comments to Mr Dowell in poor taste. What do you mean where was he? smfh

    • Douglin Bascombe November 28, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      The Minister has pointed out that the matter has been under discussion ince 2005. He asks why has the Presiodent of the NUPW not made himself and his executive familiar with the matter and air their concerns at the appropriatye time. Why now and then say he, the President, is not familiar with the details of the Act. If he that is so he should become familiar and then comment on his concerns.

  4. Signori Nera
    Signori Nera November 27, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Jeez….more poorly written, even more poorly edited, sensationalist tripe

  5. DAP November 27, 2015 at 10:53 am

    No matter what a Gov Minister does good or bad you all appose,do you all read articles before making comments did the minister not said that was what the ppl was asking for over 10 years now, Mr Dowell should of gotten his facts together before going to the press.Did he not also said that things had to be looked at before the bill was pass like safety of the workers ect.

  6. jrsmith November 27, 2015 at 11:52 am

    @, Phillips, M, @,Cheryl, Rollins, hail, hail, passing of this law is not a hasty ,decision, workers rights and religion, sections of the Barbados community was always on high hours employment.nothing new.

    Stop trying to returns us to the dark days, many people would love to work overtime in Barbados, if we had that level of manufacturing, or long duty ,work to offer. if you are religious, work your 8 hours and if you so choose ,go home and pray., you people talk about change ,but the sky is not going to fall, in Barbados. for this or any other changes, we must move to. well done the government.

  7. Caswell Franklyn November 28, 2015 at 7:17 am

    It is clear to me that neither Minister Donville Inniss, the BWU nor the persons commenting on this article is aware of the provisions of the Shops Act that has been replaced. The positive things that the Minister boasted about were already provided for on the old legislation. The old act has already provided for the provision of water, first aid kits, time off for religious observance, seats for workers, one hour for lunch.

    In the old act, if a shop was allowed to be opened on a public holiday, the workers were entitled to overtime pay at time and a half or double time as the case maybe. In this new act public holidays, except for Easter, Good Friday, Christmas and Independence, are now normal working days. As a result no more overtime and the BWU supports this? This is not the first time that BWU has acted against the best interests of workers.

    This new Shops Act done nothing beneficial for worker. It was designed to benefit the shop owners.

    Years ago, I heard of statistics which suggested that divorce was highest among police and nurses. The reason given was that they were always away from home so things happened. So please Mr. Minister don’t use public officers working 24/7 to justify anything.

    The people who run Barbados want 24/7 so it ts left up to Government to implement their wishes. That sounds more like it Mr. Minister.

  8. dave November 28, 2015 at 7:42 pm

    Mr. Caswell Franklyn , your superior knowledge and comment on this matter is welcomed Sir. I thank you for for your intervention and erudite contribution which is the usual for you in whatever forum you chose to contribute. It is an honour to see your contribution here and it shows that you are a man with your finger on the pulse of things. Thank you Mr. Franklyn.


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