Employers comment on work stoppages

Given the pressing need to improve productivity on the island, the Barbados Employers Confederation (BEC) says strikes are always a concern when they occur.

However, Executive Director Tony Walcott said he was generally pleased with how trade unions have handled industrial disputes, noting there had been no major strikes in Barbados over the past five years.

He spoke today against the backdrop of a strike by waste haulers in protest over the introduction of a tipping fee at the Mangrove Landfill. Just last week, drivers employed by the state-run Transport Board staged a six-hour strike which stranded hundreds of commuters.

BEC executive director Tony Walcott
BEC executive director Tony Walcott

“I think it would be a fair comment to say that we are always concerned when there is a stoppage of work. One of the major challenges we have as a country is the need to increase productivity generally. And any stoppage of work impacts negatively on productivity,” said Walcott.

He added, however: “In relative terms, we have had very few strikes in Barbados over the last five years. There may have been instances where challenges have arisen but in terms of wide-scale strikes, which have gone over extended periods, we generally do not have a history of those in Barbados”.

At the end of October last year, the island’s largest beverage manufacturer, Banks Holdings Limited (BHL), was affected by strike action by approximately 80 per cent of its over 500 staff. Operations at the Christ Church facility was halted after disgruntled workers walked off the job on what was considered one of the company’s biggest production days.

The workers reportedly took the action over what their bargaining agent, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU),  said were “a number of grievances”.

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