Not a wise move, says Marshall

Political economist Don Marshall has come out strongly against the current sick-out by this island’s four major trade unions, suggesting today that the action, aimed at forcing the Freundel Stuart administration to roll back recently announced austerity measures, was both misguided and unwise.

Speaking on local radio this morning, Marshall, the head of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES), also warned the unions about setting a dangerous industrial relations precedent, as he called on them to stop pressuring Government about tax matters and to focus on wages.

“I don’t dismiss their right to protest or anybody’s right to register dissatisfaction with any policy measure. But I’m saying that if you are really going to tackle the crises that labour faces in Barbados, then you have to be tackling the wage stagnation that we have known since 2008/2009, and get back to the drawing board on a wage increase at least for the period between 2009 to 12, so that we begin to address alleviating the stresses on the pockets and households,” Marshall said.

His comments came against the backdrop of stalled wage negotiations between Government and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), which has been demanding a 23 per cent pay hike for its members.

The Barbados Workers’ Union has also been awaiting word on its demand for a 15 per cent pay hike since last year, but all they have been able to garner so far is a promise by Government that it would return to the bargaining table.

The latest such indication came during meeting last month at Government Headquarters, chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and including Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and other key officials, at which Government agreed that it would try to expedite salary negotiations.

However, since then no date has been set, with Marshall pointing out that the country had for much of the past decade been grappling with the ill-effects of a global recession.

Nonetheless, he said, Government, amid reports of two per cent economic growth last year, was able to arrive at a wage settlement in its dispute with unionized workers at Grantley Adams International Airport, while maintaining that the unions must hold Government’s feet to the fire in terms of their wage demands for the wider public sector. “All the unions had to do was to take queue from that [and] from the restoration of the ten per cent [that was taken from parliamentarians’ salaries at the height of austerity] and say, ‘we want a negotiation on the question of wages and salaries,’” Marshall said, while insisting that any industrial action by the unions must be based on the standstill in wage negotiations with Government.

“It cannot be about trying to give the Government an ultimatum to reduce a particular levy from ‘x’ per cent to ‘x’ per cent. I don’t agree with that and I think it is a dangerous precedent,” he said, explaining that, “I don’t like the way in which it sets up the next Government, whoever wins the next election.

“You shouldn’t be setting up the next Government to thumb up its nose at the electorate on the question of a wage increase, or how it arranges its tax policy,” he said, while stressing that governments should be free to determine tax policy as they deem fit while addressing the question of wage negotiations as a way of providing some relief to citizens.

Marshall also suggested that if it could be proven that Government was simply ignoring the workers’ representatives on the issue of a wage increase  “then we should be having a summer of discontent.

“If you are telling me that the unions have been seeking to have a wage increase at whatever percentage and Government’s response to them has been, ‘well there can’t be no wage increase whatsoever’, then my thing is, that’s when you have to have your industrial action.

“That’s when you have to have it, because restoration has to be linked to something and you link to what they claim to be a situation where the situation has moderately improved,” the political economist said while bitterly complaining that the unions were currently engaged in “this mock debate about reducing a levy from ten per cent to five per cent or else”, as he warned them not to “betray the historical mission of workers by engaging them in a struggle to have a levy reduced when the actual struggle is to address a nine year hiatus in wage and salary increases.

“That is the real debate,” he stressed. 

41 Responses to Not a wise move, says Marshall

  1. Charles Alleyne
    Charles Alleyne July 21, 2017 at 12:28 am

    It’s amazing when you guys from the hill when we need your voices as it relates to issues that effecting the people ,but no Mr Marshall you are so in bed with government and having an objective voice to this situation is so lacking.Why must they protest the wages if there is talks still going on so what is this smoke screen you are projecting .The real issue is these austerity measures which have serious and immediate impact on all areas of the society and the union must force government hand to rescind some of these ridiculous taxes.Mr Marshall you know full well government is not entertaining any wage increases so argument to asked to focus on such hold no merit sir.This is really to hit and make the government feel it in every strategic area the way it’s feeling after this NSRL tax is impacting on the people.The unions had to continue to agitate on behalf of their people despite the descending voices.

    • Sunshine Sunny Shine July 21, 2017 at 11:14 am

      Normally Don Marshall makes a whole lot of sense when he addresses Barbados’ economic matters. However, I am not sure if I can agree this time around with what he is saying, particularly his belief that the unions should be doing what they are doing now in the name of addressing increase wages. If Don Marshall had stated that the unions had the best opportunity to argue for a wage increase for civil servants when he, Stuart and his bunch of circus doan carish clowns was justifying they return of their 10%, I could agree with his assertion. The Unions should have come up in full force against this ignorant government when they sought that restoration, and continue to find excuses why workers must remain in a wage freeze. I am afraid that window has passed.

  2. Saga Boy July 21, 2017 at 1:02 am

    That’s right Gov cannot afford any wage increases at this time. Employees must understand that clearly. What they need to do is to negotiate arrangement to assist persons who fall into cracks. The entire country needs to work together for the good of the nation. The private sector needs to assure us that they will be offering the best possible prices and they must stop the weekly increases of goods in the supermarkets. Changing the gov is not the solution to our problems.

    • Robert Goren July 21, 2017 at 4:46 am

      “Changing the government may be the solution to our problems,” THEN “The entire country could work together for the good of the nation.”

      But I see that rather than blame this administration’s failed economic policies over the past 9 years, you are blaming the private sector.

      You are a true DLP supporter…. blame the BLP, “the worst recession in a 100 years” and the private sector. You lot are never willing to accept responsibility for your failures.

  3. hewers of wood July 21, 2017 at 1:20 am

    On a positive note. Changing the government may just be that solution to everything as things are tipped over that razor sharp edge.

  4. Daniel Zimmerli
    Daniel Zimmerli July 21, 2017 at 4:53 am

    Shut up and call elections…. stop this misery for the love of Barbados

  5. Angela Griffith
    Angela Griffith July 21, 2017 at 5:41 am

    Shut up we you sound like a lost sheep

  6. Sheron Inniss July 21, 2017 at 6:00 am

    Mr Marshall you can afford to talk, the shoe is not on your foot and you definitely are not feeling the pinches and tightness. You mean to tell me only the parliamentarians deserving? The Dems doing a lot of nonsense man, enough is enough. You like you want people to make bricks out of straw. Well that can’t work.

    Saga Boy thanks for the laugh.

  7. jrsmith July 21, 2017 at 6:04 am

    Bajans seems not to attack the real problems in barbados , but is playing into the government/ politicians hands…. All the experts who really seems not get anything right , never directly challenge the government , but attacking the soft targets the unions……..
    The private sector have nothing to say against the government especially , against the priminster and to see why ask the (Audit General) to publish his previous report before the last one … showing the masses where the 900 millions of barbados treasury money is at or went to……………
    Ask a lot of them why are they not repaying the so call loans and how many of them pay taxes in barbados, but making the profits on paying bajans low wages and shifting their profits to the tax havens…………………………..
    My take ,bajans need to get real serious and try to come to grips with the fact this government , have no real interest in doing anything for the black masses in barbados ………………… Because they position is secured , they have no one challenging them whether political of from the voters /people who is very scared to lift they voices in opposition……………..
    Bajan voters need to come together and prevent what have happen in the past 9 years of non activity by a group of people calling themselves a government who cant even run Harry’s rum shop around the corner…………..
    Bajans must demand their is (Accountability ) from the politicians have something in place before the next election, because if this lot win again we are in for a torrid time , but to be in a position to be able to remove the same people you vote for by the same vote, would be the best move ever happen to barbados in the past 50 years ……………
    This must be done ……. The people need to do something for the people to save our nation…………………………………………

  8. Tony Webster July 21, 2017 at 6:08 am

    Shutes man..the game is cricket! The batters have swiped this way, and that, giving shameless dolly catches and they are down to some weak-kneed bowlers who dont even know how to hold the bat properly. WE are the unpires, and we have our finger (or is it two?) up…so please guys, do the decent thing; come in and sit on the bench: it’s the other guys’ turn to bat. Simple.

    Only Americans, Russians, and Chinese…don’t know what’s real cricket…and what’s swiping.

  9. Barbie Jean
    Barbie Jean July 21, 2017 at 6:18 am

    Tunnel vision. …

  10. Hyacinth Mayers
    Hyacinth Mayers July 21, 2017 at 6:52 am

    Shut to f..k up you stupid wanker

    • Milli Watt July 21, 2017 at 9:40 am

      now now language

  11. hewers of wood July 21, 2017 at 7:24 am

    This Marshall does not even have a badge. He
    is one of them f@#$ up SPECKLED bananas which need cutting off the hand to save the bunch. Dufus. Look at him.

  12. Sue Donym July 21, 2017 at 7:41 am

    Why must there be a choice? Why can’t the unions ask for wage increases AND adjustments/retraction of measures that affect their members’ spending power? In any event the net effect is an increased ability to buy, meet financial commitments, save etc. By the same token, it would not be unwise to ask government to curb their spending, let’s say by cutting payments to the eternally ill or absent, non-working, non-performing or under-performing, ghost employees, unwarranted use of overtime.

    We could also “look at” the often excessive payments to shell corporations, companies owned by ‘relatives and friends of big boys’ and some of the areas of runaway spending identified by the auditor general.

  13. Lauraine Clarke
    Lauraine Clarke July 21, 2017 at 7:42 am

    When the fat pigs eating good stuff,and drinking the good drinks it is ok, but think about the person who can’t make ends meet,don’t care how hard them work,don’t talk if you are not wearing the shoe.

    • hewers of wood July 21, 2017 at 8:35 am

      @lauraine.C – we got some fat guts sheep in the troth eating too.

  14. Lilian Lloyd
    Lilian Lloyd July 21, 2017 at 8:09 am


  15. Mack July 21, 2017 at 8:18 am

    Another educated one who only can talk and draw tax payers money. Nothing else.

  16. Dan Louis
    Dan Louis July 21, 2017 at 8:24 am

    They are all in with Mottley. wait till she gets in it will be hell to pay watch and see by the time she’s finish bajans will as asking why type of games of thrones they are into.

    • Natalie Murray
      Natalie Murray July 21, 2017 at 9:11 am

      Unions should be in bed with any political party that supports Labour. Labour is bleeding under the current government. If the BLP as stated in the Covenant of Hope will treat Labour with respect…..why not.

  17. hewers of wood July 21, 2017 at 8:31 am

    @Mack – OK then. Them lot is set up as a SPOKE IN THE WHEEL throwing over the suffering riders who can’t advance from that ‘bicycle’.

  18. Dave D. Thompson
    Dave D. Thompson July 21, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Mr Marshall ur panties r showing …stop trying to mislead the public gov already shut down the wages increase issue

  19. Natalie Murray
    Natalie Murray July 21, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Not one word from you to tell your government that it was unwise to pick and choose who to send home from NCC. Why you did not tell your government it was unwise to retrenched 3500 workers and rehire 1800. I am tired of you people who think that average Barbadians “stupid”

  20. Natalie Murray
    Natalie Murray July 21, 2017 at 8:56 am

    Unions fight for Tax Justice Mr. Marshall.

  21. Errol Rayside
    Errol Rayside July 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Uncle Tom.

  22. Errol Rayside
    Errol Rayside July 21, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Stool pigeon.

  23. Errol Rayside
    Errol Rayside July 21, 2017 at 9:01 am

    Yard foul-yard fowl-yard foul.

  24. Errol Rayside
    Errol Rayside July 21, 2017 at 9:07 am


  25. Natalie Murray
    Natalie Murray July 21, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Please note that Unions fight for Tax Justice for its members. The NSRL is an unjust tax in the face of no salary increase for 9 years and an internal devaluation.

  26. Lilian Lloyd
    Lilian Lloyd July 21, 2017 at 9:18 am


  27. Lilian Lloyd
    Lilian Lloyd July 21, 2017 at 9:21 am


  28. Milli Watt July 21, 2017 at 9:42 am

    he gets paid to think…………me thinks he is thinking

  29. Tennyson Drakes July 21, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    People: There is a saying: Be careful what you ask for, you may just get it. The Americans ask for Donald Trump, and they got him. What a thing.

  30. Gearbox1964 July 21, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    @Tennyson Yardfowl

    There is no other party or potential leader out there that is worst than Freundel and his cabinet. We have been led by the Donald Trumps of Barbados for the last 9 years dude. A bunch of idiots who screw up this country from each and every angle you can look from.
    Fundel…a crippled leader with fancy words and nothing to say.
    Stinkler…a bald-pooch novice with a silly grin and no clue when it comes to economics.
    Ronald Jones…a demonic a$$hole who can’t manage Education but want people breed and get more children.
    Dennis Kellman…a total crotch mite…oops uh mean termite who destroying housing.
    Dennis Lowe…another retard who busy worrying bout who Mia bite yet he can’t run de Health ministry properly.
    Adriel Brathwaite…busy releasing heartless murderers early from prison while de crime situation getting out of hand in Barbados.

    These are the cream of the idiots in the current Administration.

    Fuh God’s sake ring de damn bell man!!!

  31. Lorenzo July 21, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Having listen to dr Don Marshall over time I believe he is a Dem as he is always looking for excuses for them or attacking critics of this government in this case the Unions.the Unions are there to fight for workers which this young brigade is doing unlike the former leeaders who were mostly affiliated to the DLP.

  32. John king July 21, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    Fuh God’s sake ring de damn Don bell man!!!

    I’m saying that if you are really going to tackle the crises that labour faces in Barbados, then you have to be tackling capitalist induced wage stagnation that we have known since 2008/2009, and get back to the drawing board and stop the ban on a wage increase which began in the period between 2009 to 12 and after that remove the NSRL so that we begin to address alleviating the stresses on the pockets and households,” Mr Marshall man the political Economite.

    So go easy and sensible on this ok

  33. Wasman July 23, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    It just amazes me how we the same black masses are willing to kill and cure over political parties and political agendas, we even cussing one another now smh, I ent marching next to none a wanna, because when de stones, de bullets and de cutlasses start to fly in de next election as wanna fight over wanna parties I’ll be keeping me and my family safe at home, because at the end of the day it’s those chairmanships of boards and special offer to the few not the masses that will count most. Selah


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