BEC proposes new four-day workweek
If the umbrella Barbados Employers Confederation (BEC) gets its way, a four-day workweek, in which employees put in ten-hours per day, could become the norm, replacing the current five-day, eight-hour workweek.
Labour Management Advisor Brittaney Brathwaite outlined the BEC’s position Thursday during a productivity seminar held at the Barbados Workers Union’s Solidarity House headquarters.
While insisting that employees were not totally to blame for low productivity, she pointed to “outdated and archaic systems” within the workplace itself.
Brathwaite went on to suggest that many of the structures and systems, which remain in place, were restrictive to the country’s productivity and she questioned the need for an 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. workday in cases where employees had lap-tops and could better operate on flexi-time, instead of being asked to function in a structured framework.
In the interest of overall productivity, the BEC representative said the umbrella body for employers was hoping to see the introduction of a four-day workweeks of ten hours per day to free up employees, such as accountants, in cases where they are not needed on the job site from Monday to Friday.
She lamented that in many cases employers had failed to utilize the technology at their disposal, preferring instead to hold face-to-face meetings, lasting over three hours, which she said were simply counter productive.
In her contribution, the Executive Assistant to General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union, Gillian Alleyne, agreed with Brathwaite that many hours were wasted at management meetings when modern technology could be used to expedite discussions.
At the same time, she described cellular phones as some of the biggest time wasters in today’s workplace, while recalling an incident where she spent 45 minutes texting fellow employees who were on the union compound at the time.
Also addressing the productivity seminar, Chief Labour Officer Vincent Burnett suggested that gone were the days when workers were simply given across-the-board wages and salary increases. Burnett, who has been employed in the Labour Department for the past 30 years, said such increases were now based on productivity, but said there was need for a better understanding on the part of workers of the productivity measures in use.
“We do not always get what we want in negotiations, but if we get somewhere near to what we wanted then we are better off,” he said, while warning that “Barbados could be in the doldrums if we do not look at productivity”.