Is there really a Social Partnership left to speak of?

Not so long ago, Barbados was the envy of the Caribbean and the rest of the developing world for its Social Partnership which sprung out of the economic crisis of the early 1990s as a workable national cooperation model between labour, employers and the state.

Indeed, the Barbados arrangement was held aloft as a template for others to follow, and its architects were widely credited for conceiving of an initiative that not only contributed to the reversal of the economic decline, but more importantly, to a path of sustained growth with the implementation of the First Protocol – the Prices and Incomes Policy – between 1993 and 1995.

Since then, officials journeyed from far and near to study this “wonderful” model of tripartite cooperation among Government, trade unions and the country’s private sector, in the hope of successfully replicating it one day.

Among those who were seemingly very impressed with the Barbados example was the now late Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, Sir Dwight Venner, who on more than one occasion, including his delivery of the Eighth Patrick Emmanuel Memorial Lecture at the UWI, Cave Hill Campus, publicly declared that the Barbados Social Partnership was worthy of emulation by the sub-region.

“There must be a balance between consumption and production, which will involve a pact between the state, the private sector and the trade unions to maintain the balance and trade-offs in wages, [and] prices,” Sir Dwight had suggested at the time.

“This pact has been successful in Barbados and should be replicated throughout the region,” he stressed, while hailing the three-way agreement as the instrument for removing the major impediment stalling a growth in production, which he said the sub-regional grouping, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), needed for social and economic development.

“The socio-economic transformation requires a rate of growth over five or seven per cent in ten years to double per capita incomes in the OECS,” Sir Dwight had said.  “This rate of growth will be able to address the unemployment and poverty levels and maintain and improve the human development indices,” he added.

Fast-forward to 2017 and the economic and social mayhem that we are currently witnessing only serves to belie the very existence of a ‘Team Barbados’.

Amid seemingly unending industrial strife, the question must be asked, what has gone so very wrong with our great Social Partnership? Why are the very architects now seemingly at each other’s throats, with the umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados looking on helplessly and seemingly just waiting to pick up the carcasses to make arrangements for the inevitable Social Partnership funeral.

Indeed it would seem as though the casket has already been ordered. But the question still must be asked and answered: What was the understanding between Messrs Leroy Trotman (now Sir Roy), Owen Arthur and John Stanley (Sir John) who had constituted the tripartite leadership of the day, and why does it no longer exist between Akanni McDowall, Toni Moore, Freundel Stuart and Charles Herbert?

Could we be witnessing the ill effects of a nasty beer-drinking contest at a time when our country needs its leaders to be united in a common mission to develop and elevate Barbados?

Certainly it cannot be a matter of like or dislike since the previous leaders were as much revered, as they were hated, but that certainly did not stop them from meeting to thrash out their differences for the sake of the country and ultimately in the interest of the national good.

Protests always come and go, but never before have we had a situation like the one we are currently facing in which our unions can’t be guaranteed an audience with our Prime Minister, and over such an important matter as dreaded taxation.

After weeklong protest action in the form of a go-slow, followed by a public sector sick-out that is expected to escalate next week into a national march with members of the private sector on board, we can only hope and pray that common sense will somehow prevail and that all sides can display a definite willingness to place national interests above all else.

For with our Social Partnership currently in shambles, it is little wonder that the economy is also down in the dumps.

7 Responses to Is there really a Social Partnership left to speak of?

  1. James Franks July 22, 2017 at 4:19 am

    Never known times like these with such unrest, turmoil and hugely rising prices.
    Barbados is in sharp decline and desperately needs a change of leadership to stabilise the Island.

  2. Colin King July 22, 2017 at 7:34 am

    Clearly Not!

    There are a hell of a lot of maneuverings going on “Behind The Scenes” that we are not really aware of as the various groupings, each with their own individual agenda, battle for advantage, using whatever means is at their disposal.

    I believe it is now fair to say that the turmoil and unrest that has been plaguing, and continues to plague, the Rest Of The World since The Great Recession of 2008 has now well and truly landed on the shores of Barbados.

    World Annual Economic Growth is a sluggish 2.50% (Approx.) and almost 10 years have passed since 2008!

    In other words there has been no real recovery to date, and no prospects of a real recovery anytime soon.

    In fact we are now due for another downturn in The World Economy!

    The road ahead for Barbados, and Barbadians, will not be easy despite what may be promised in the coming months leading up to the next elections!

    Politicians will do, and say, anything to get elected.

    Bajans need to listen extremely carefully and take it all in with a very large “Pinch Of Salt”.

    While it appears that we need to move on to a new administration, and we should, do not fall for unrealistic promises aimed at securing a very large majority in Parliament going forward.

    We must temper the need for change by ensuring that there is a strong Opposition in office to monitor the “Goings On”.

    And there will be plenty of “Goings On” of that you can be assured!

    Do not expect miracles come next year!!

    The current World Economic Environment simply does not support this despite what may be said over the next few months.

  3. Colin King July 22, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Now many supposedly “Wise Heads” will say World Recession?

    What rubbish are you talking?

    But the fact remains that The Last Recession started 1n 2007 and ended in 2009 with no real buoyant recovery. The one before started and ended in 2001. The two previous recessions ran from 1990 t0 1991 and from 1981 to 1982.

    In these cases the time between the end of one recession and the start of another was about eight years on average.

    Eight years have passed since the last recession and the USA is now in the zone for a recession based on its experience since 1980.

    When The USA sneezes, The World catches the cold and The Caribbean gets Pneumonia.

    We have the uncertainty of Brexit, the slowing down of the Chinese Economy, The Donald Trump Factor, Iran, North Korea, The Middle East, Ukraine, Russia, Climate Change…………………….and the list goes on and on!

    I’m afraid that A World Recession is just around the corner, probably within the next 18-24 months!!

    The last thing we as Barbadians need going into the upcoming crucial elections is a whole lot of “Fake News” promising all kinds of unrealistic goodies that will not be forthcoming!

    We must be particularly careful when listening to all those who have an agenda and points to be gained from one Party or another holding the reins of Government!

    We all know who they are!!!

    They make ‘no bones” about it, and do not try in any way to hide their Party affiliation.

    We would be considerably wiser if instead we took the time and gave our ears to those who clearly do not have any Party affiliations and who are not afraid to speak their minds in the best interest of the Country!

    Do not be fooled by either Party!!

    After all that is what the “Silly Season” is all about!!

    Fooling The Electorate!!

  4. Colin King July 22, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    All of “The Leeches”, of The BLP variety, and of The DLP variety, are surfacing, making themselves both audible and visible, and attaching themselves to their host.

    This phenomenon always occurs during “The Silly Season”!

    You just have to look with eyes “wide open” and listen “carefully enough” in order to be able to identify them.

    Do not allow them to fool you!

    That is their intention!

  5. Colin King July 23, 2017 at 7:25 am

    We are currently trying to solve a number of problems within “A System” that is itself The Problem.

    This Is “A System” That Values Celebrity Over Science, Opinion Over Fact, Authority Over Evidence And Fake News Over The Truth!

    Where there is no vision, there is no hope!

  6. Jherri Santana July 23, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Social partnership….a triumvirate of sorts..designed to keep the masses in their place….after all we are the ultimate consumers!!! of political lies, sleight of hand, business wheeling & dealing and we are always easy game for the predators!!!

    Also it is said that we “get the govt we deserve”..sow to the wind..reap the whirlwind”.

  7. Greengiant July 24, 2017 at 6:22 am

    Less we forget, this same administration had made changes to the delegation to an I L O conference some years ago, that angered the heads of the B W U, and caused a split within the CTUSAB body.

    Since then there’s been changes within the NUPW particularly, and the CTUSAB remains a fractured organization. So within reality it’s insignificant at the moment. The BWU has never forgiven this administration for their interference with the ILO delegation selection, so this march and protest is about much more than the austerity measures. People are fighting for their political survival on several fronts. Some memebers of the business community, the Unions, and some senior executives all have their political agendas. History has shown that marches supported by the business community are never about the workers. Employers, especially some of the names appearing to lead this protest are some of the most worker unfriendly in this country. Do any of us believe that suddenly in 2017 they have become worker friendly?


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