A meeting of the minds

The meeting of Government, labour and the private sector as the social partners of Barbados, constitutes a meeting of the minds. This is not expected to be a talk shop as there is the expectation that the leadership of these key institutions will engage in dialogue that is intended to inform national decision-making.

A distinct feature of the Barbados tripartite model is reflected within successive protocols, where provisions have been made for a schedule of meetings of the Full Social Partnership, once every quarter of the year, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister. Further to this, provision is also made for a monthly meeting of the Sub Committee of the Social Partnership. These are convened under the chairmanship of the Minister of Labour. This arrangement allows for a minimum of sixteen meetings per year for the partners to engage in constructive dialogue and consultation.

Notwithstanding the fact that there is a list of scheduled meetings, this does not constrain any of the partners from requesting to have an urgent meeting to discuss any matter which it deems as a priority. To add to all this, there is every opportunity for further dialogue and consultation at the level of working groups and committees which have been set up with a specific mandate or terms of reference. There is even more provision for dialogue and consultation to take place at the level of the management of various ministries, departments and agencies of Government.

In the past, there has been a practice where the leadership of the Social Partners, namely the Prime Minister, the Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association and the President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, met in camera to address issues and concerns, and even set the agenda for ongoing discussions. Given that there are several opportunities and avenues for dialogue and consultation to take place, it begs the question as to why any of the partners would be forced to make repeated calls for dialogue and consultation to take place.

The irony of this rests in the fact that for every meeting of the Full and Sub Committee of the Social Partnership, there is a request made by the Secretariat of the Social Partnership for the submission by the partners of proposed agenda items. Following on this, if there is a void of concrete ideas being brought by the partners to the discussions, then there is a significant problem to be experienced in the quest to find workable solutions. If the meetings are to be described as just a talk shop, then it is not hard to understand why.

Based on the information presented which suggests that there are plenty opportunities and scope for meeting, dialogue and consultation, it would seem that there is something fundamentally wrong if the partners are not getting it right. Is it that there is a lack of focus in the discussions that take place? Are the parties taking their respective roles seriously? Are those who are charged with leadership being misguided by clouding their judgments in attempting to promote matters that have no place in the context of what is to happen at the level of meetings of the Full and Sub Committee of the Social Partnership?

It is questionable as to how feasible it is to take on board a suggestion that there ought to be more consultation that involves members of the public and Non-Governmental Organizations. If this is the case, to what extent would this compromise the working of the Social Partnership in the national governance arrangement? It would seem that those who espouse this idea are living under an illusion that there is to be an exclusive governance arrangement; one in which everybody has a say.

Those who share this view ought to realize that what we now have is an inclusive governance arrangement. As it stands, the Government represents the interest of the state, labour unions represent the voice of working class and the society at large, while the private sector represents the interest of the business community. If it is that this tripartite mechanism is failing in meeting the objective of enabling dialogue and consultation, it means that it is time for the individual partners to do some serious introspection in order to ascertain why this is so, and the extent to which they are contributing to it. We ought to remember that the Social Partnership mechanism has served Barbados well for more than twenty years. It would be a burning shame if all parties who nurtured, built and sold it to the world, would either join or sit idly by in attempting to bring it to its knees.

History will recall that it was the Social Partnership which saved and brought Barbados out of the 1991 crisis. As we face the economic challenges of 2017, there is every indication that from the outcomes of the televised meeting of the Full Social Partnership of Friday, 11 August, 2017, Barbados looks forward to the Social Partnership to find workable solutions to rescue the ailing state of the economy.

This portrays to the world a fine example of what is participatory democracy and the assuming of collective responsibility. Moreover, it conveys that no partisan political position is seemingly the answer to solving the economic problems of a state at a given time.


Source: (Dennis De Peiza is a Labour Relations Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc. Website: www.regionalmanagement services.com. Email:rmsinc@caribsurf.com)

2 Responses to A meeting of the minds

  1. Jerry August 19, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    All smoke and no real action and direction.the pain is still to come

  2. Jus me August 19, 2017 at 5:08 pm

    Gimme a brek Dennis,whatever you get paid to write this
    Garbage, dem robbed.
    You really feel we PORTRAY anything to the World?
    Get real man.
    Bank you money,en say, thank you Jesus, after that
    Batten Yuh hatch.
    Barbados Worldwide now is seen as what we really are.A fly speck piece a rock,Governed by a clown and his entourage.
    Wankers as JR would say.


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