PM budges

Stuart to hold tripartite discussions

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has agreed in principle to a meeting of the Social Partnership, as pressure mounts on his administration to roll back some of the austerity measures announced in the recent Budget.

However, he is yet to set an official date for the talks which come amid rising tensions between his Government, unions and the private sector over the measures.

President of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Charles Herbert told Barbados TODAY Tuesday night that confirmation of the planned meeting was received late Monday.

However, he made it clear that the talks were in response to a request made by the private sector, and not the island’s trade union leaders, who last week issued an ultimatum to the Prime Minister to accede to their demands for tax relief within 48 hours or else.

“It [the meeting] is something specific to the private sector, not the unions,” Herbert said, explaining that a meeting of the Social Partnership had been previously scheduled for August 18, even before the unions’ ultimatum had expired last Thursday, and the subsequent protest action to press their case for either a fifty per cent roll back of the National Social Responsibility Levy, which was increased from two to ten per cent on July 1, or for Government to grant this island’s workers relief in the form of a coping subsidy.

“[As I said] that was before the [industrial] action,” Herbert stressed, further explaining that the private sector had been in communication with the Prime Minister long before then.

“We received a response from him [on Monday] and in it, he agreed in principle for a meeting with the Social Partnership, but he has not set a date,” the BPSA spokesman told Barbados TODAY, adding he was prepared to do all he could to get the three sides talking again.

President of the Barbados Private Sector Association Charles Herbert today confirmed that Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had agreed in principle to a meeting of the Social Partnership.

“I certainly will do all that I can to encourage an early meeting because this coming period of Kadooment and CARIFESTA [the Caribbean Festival of Arts] is absolutely critical.

“These are two bright sparks [for] the island’s revenue. After that there is nothing until Christmas. These are important to the private sector and we want them to come off,” the BPSA head said.

He suggested that level heads, sitting together under the umbrella of the Social Partnership, should be able to come up with measures that could be supported by the wider community.

“We all recognize that there are difficulties and we all recognize that there is going to be pain. I think that there has just not been buy-in on the budgetary proposals, which are beginning to take effect,” Herbert told Barbados TODAY after phase one of a foreign exchange levy took effect on Monday.

The measure is one in a series of onerous measures announced by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in his May 30 Budget, aimed at erasing the island’s $537 million deficit and achieving a balanced budget.

However, the Budget has been met by a major public outcry from the private sector and the island’s four major trade unions — namely the Barbados Workers’ Union, the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, The National Union of Public Workers and the Barbados Union of Teachers — which have been anxious to return to the negotiating table with Government.

In the absence of such talks and a seeming determination by Government to ignore the wishes of the workers’ representatives, the unions have ordered their members to embark on a public sector go-slow and work-to-rule which has so far not achieved its desired effect.

In the meantime, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Eddy Abed has welcomed news that the Prime Minister has agreed to meet in principle with members of the Social Partnership, saying there was a general understanding by all parties of the time sensitive nature of the discussions.

“I think that all parties want to be clear and sure when they come to dialogue of what they are asking for. The Prime Minister has the mandate to govern this country and I can only assume that he has taken the position that he is gathering facts and getting the necessary information required before he meets the private sector as head of the Social Partnership,” Abed said.

Amid the ongoing protest by the unions, he also made it clear that the unions had no axe to grind with the private sector.

“This is a matter purely with Government  . . . . We just happen to be collateral damage and that is all it is,” he told Barbados TODAY, while reporting that to date there had been little if any private sector fallout from the current protest action, which involves Customs officers and other workers at the Bridgetown Port.

The unions are yet to respond to the latest development.

However, earlier Tuesday afternoon, NUPW executives met with top officials of the umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB) for talks described by NUPW President Akanni McDowall as cordial.

This followed a complaint lodged by the union over statements made by CTUSAB trustee Hartley Reid to the effect that the country’s largest public sector union was “always a problem in CTUSAB” and that the NUPW had defaulted for up to two years on its subscriptions.

However,  in a release issued by CTUSAB, General Secretary Dennis De Peiza made it clear that the opinions expressed by Reid at a lunchtime lecture given by the ruling Democratic Labour Party last Friday were “not those of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados”.

“In setting the record straight, the [CTUSAB] acknowledges that at the time . . .. . Mr Reid was acting as a private citizen, and not as an appointed representative of CTUSAB,” De Peiza said in the clear-the-air statement.

ryangilkes@barbadostoday.bb

7 Responses to PM budges

  1. hcalndre July 19, 2017 at 12:06 am

    That`s what I mean when I call these people lizards depending on where they are, they can change their color/positions. Reid at on moment he is a trustee of CTUSAB and the next you hear he is a private person, where do they really stand?

    Reply
  2. Sheron Inniss July 19, 2017 at 6:30 am

    2018 coming soon

    Reply
  3. Milli Watt July 19, 2017 at 11:17 am

    when this PM agree in principle to something you got to wait months. that means we got months at this

    Reply
  4. patty July 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    We all live in Barbados. I don’t like what I am seeing…This advesarial..”up de thing” mentality is only serving to stir up strife, resentment and commotion…people are being riled up to discontent and dissension…I fear we are inciting people to commit crime and violent acts by feeding them the excuse of “things tight” so people feel justified in robbing, killing and doing damage. I plead with my people…be careful of the methods we use. Union leaders, you have a serious responsibility. Politicians you too have a serious responsibility. I am seeing signs of what happens in Jamaica. Guyana and other places creeping into Barbados….I fear it will get worse as the thirst for power grips individuals…Everyone wants to prove that they are big, bad and powerful…
    I suggest we get a little more of God in our lives

    Reply
  5. Anton July 19, 2017 at 8:34 pm

    I totally agree with you Patty. Although I do not like what the Government has done and continues to do I think that the Unions are inciting the people to riot and the people who will be hurt more than anybody else is John Public because the Union will look after itself and leave the public in the lurch when push comes to shove. this country is in one nasty mess and it pains me to see what my country has become

    Reply
  6. sandy perkins July 20, 2017 at 6:18 am

    We need first to pray about what is going on in our precious country Barbados and that GOD will see us through all of these demonic forces that is hindering this island.We need a more focus and reliable prime minister and cabinet for that matter.We can not just sir by and watch this government walk over the people of Barbados while they line there pockets with our money.This goverment is incompetent of running this country,they have proven themselves once again.I hope and pray that the people of this country will not be swayed when elections come where this ridiculous government will promise to pay a utility bill and then after being in power those same people will be suffering again at these people.GOD is not sleeping,sickclair or whatever his name is just remember your day will come.I hope we will soon see the backs of this GOVERNMENT.They have done nothing for the people in this country,they have lined there pockets and that is why we are where we are now.HELP GET THEM OUT.

    Reply
  7. Nathaniel Samuels July 23, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    The Unions are not inciting anyone. It is the government that has caused the people through the unions and the private sector to fight back against the austere measures that it has imposed on the people and to crown it all, the members of the DLP have continued to receive the ten percent that they restored to themselves when civil servants have not had a pay increase for over eight years

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *