No dud

NUPW defends anti-austerity protests and Social Partnership talks

The umbrella agency of private sector organizations here appears to be questioning the impact of last month’s march, which attracted an estimated 20,000 Barbadians who took to the streets of the capital to protest against Government’s austerity programme.

While addressing a forum organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados this morning, Chairman of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Charles Herbert appeared to suggest that the July 24 demonstration did not have the desired results.

In expressing disappointment that after many years of economic malaise, the Freundel Stuart administration had yet to implement a workable solution to the island’s economic woes, Herbert said he was now “browbeaten as to what the solution is”.

He also told those gathered at the Savannah Hotel for the forum it was obvious that the march, which was organized by the business community and the four leading trade unions, was not the solution since it seemed to have applied very little pressure on Government.

It was an apparent reference to Government’s refusal to back down on the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy, which has been the most contentious measure implemented as part of the 2017 austerity budget presented by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on May 30.

The levy, introduced last September at two per of the customs value of imported and locally produced goods, was increased to ten per cent as part of the administration’s efforts to plug the gaping fiscal deficit.

The private sector and the unions – the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, the Barbados Union of Teachers, the Barbados Workers’ Union and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), have all complained that the tax is onerous and crippling.

Charles Herbert and Akanni McDowall

The unions have been demanding a 50 per cent reduction or a subsidy to help workers cope until a new collective agreement is reached with Government.

NUPW President Akanni McDowall appeared to have a difference of opinion with Herbert, telling Barbados TODAY this evening that the march was meant to force Stuart to meet with the Social Partners to discuss the way forward for the economy.

With Stuart relenting and summoning a meeting on August 11, McDowall said in  this context the march was a success.

Some observers felt the eight-hour meeting was a failure because the unions left empty handed.

However, McDowall said it was not a dud, insisting that “we did not get the outcome that we wanted, but if you try to see the positives that we would have gotten from the meeting, certainly it provided an opportunity for the public to receive additional information that they might not have had before.

“So, I would say the Social Partnership meeting was not a total waste of time if you want to put it that way. What we do next is going to be critical, but that information is going to be given to the public once we discuss it as a group and we agree on the position,” McDowall told Barbados TODAY.

While no concrete decisions were taken at the August 11 talks, Stuart, who chaired the discussions, spoke of follow-up talks.

However, McDowall said he was unclear whether the proposed follow up meetings would involve the entire Social Partnership.

“I don’t know if he means follow-up meetings of the subcommittees of the Social Partnership or if he was referring to the working groups to look at the fiscal deficit growth and social responsibility.

“Those three working groups were formed and CTUSAB [the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados] is sitting on the three groups.  The NUPW has also sent a representative to these groups, but in relation to the short-term matters that we wanted resolved which would have been the main contention going into the Social Partnership meeting.”

Meantime, Government, the labour movement and the private sector have started discussions on the development of a comprehensive National Economic and Social Development Restructuring and Enhancement Programme (NESDREP), which was announced in the 2017 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals.

Director of Finance and Economic Affairs Dr Louis Woodroffe was quoted this week in a release from the Government Information Service as saying the recent meeting was held with the view of outlining the way forward towards delivering the strategic framework for the NESDREP.

“In order to ensure the successful completion of this strategic framework, three working groups with officials from public agencies, labour, and the private sector have been established to cover the thematic areas of fiscal reform, economic growth, and sustainability and social responsibility.”

Woodroffe pointed out that the working groups would be spearheaded by the Permanent Secretaries responsible for Finance, Economic Affairs and Social Care, who will be charged with organizing the workflow and activities among the respective stakeholders.

Those attending the NESDREP meeting, which was chaired by Woodroffe, included CTUSAB Cedric Murrell, BWU General Secretary Toni Moore, and BPSA Chairman Charles Herbert.


ryangilkes@barbadostoday.bb

14 Responses to No dud

  1. Saga Boy August 25, 2017 at 1:59 am

    This is what you should have done long time ago. Capital and the trade unions cannot occupy the same bed. Just last week the BWU was complaining that some private sector companies were engaging in union busting. It that is the case did the BWU use the new found private sector/union relationship to get Herbert to talk to those union busters? I wonder if those accused were also marched with the unions.

    Reply
  2. Epaphras D. Williams
    Epaphras D. Williams August 25, 2017 at 5:40 am

    Well people got a lil’ stress off their plates for a moment.

    Reply
  3. Itz Queen
    Itz Queen August 25, 2017 at 5:51 am

    Now ya see wa I did saying ? Y’all went and lying down together looking fa two different kind of pleasure,private sector looking to FORCE STUART hand to drop de NSRL and and de Unions wanted to FORCE STUART in to a meeting.But any how ,ya all had one thing in common when ya all went to the table or should I say bed and that was to FORCE STUART but Stuart didn’t Ben .so what next?

    Reply
  4. Rawle Spooner
    Rawle Spooner August 25, 2017 at 6:29 am

    Surprise not guess ya all lost some weight during the march,15 minutes of fame over now reality setting in.

    Reply
  5. Greengiant August 25, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Clearly some of us were totally correct in call the association of Unions and the private sector partners ‘ an unholy alliance’.

    Their purpose for the march differed as we can see here from the separate leaders. The private sector wants to force the hand of government, while the unions wanted dialogue.

    Can this unholy union continue? Can they work together for the betterment of the workers whose contributions in different ways make a significant impact on both organisations? Only time will tell if this unholy short term friendship really meant anything positive for the thousands who braved the heat to march or if this was another vain, self serving operation that had absolutely nothing to do with the workers. This could be the beginning of a very challenging period for the trade union movement in this country. I would describe it as the error of the century.

    Reply
  6. James Austin Bynoe
    James Austin Bynoe August 25, 2017 at 10:29 am

    You all are falling into the very trap predicted between the unions and private sections as bed fellows. I guess the love affair is over. Smh

    Reply
  7. milli watt August 25, 2017 at 10:54 am

    OFFICIAL SCORE CARD

    FRUNS LION LAMB
    6 0 0

    Reply
    • milli watt August 25, 2017 at 10:56 am

      OFFICIAL SCORE CARD

      FRUNS 6 LION 0 LAMB 0

      Reply
  8. Carson C Cadogan August 25, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    The workers went to the march because they were paid to so. They got a half holiday with pay. That is the only reason that they attended.

    Reply
  9. Saga Boy August 25, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Charles Herbert is delusional. I read in one of the local mewspapers when he referred to himself as “white.” He is just a simple Malatto like me or my father.

    Reply
  10. jrsmith August 25, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    The big issue stop changing lanes from the real problems, controlling of the politicians , who is destroying our nation………

    Reply
  11. lswiltshire August 25, 2017 at 4:08 pm

    will the workers get a half holiday with pay on the next election day?
    will this also be the only reason that they will attend at the poll?.

    Reply
  12. lswiltshire August 25, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Charles Herbert is delusional……BECAUSE HE SAYS HE IS WHITE AND SOME IDIOT THINKS HE IS NOT?

    HOW DOES THAT AFFECT THE PRICE OF CHEESE?

    WAS THE MARCH EFFECTIVE OR NOT?
    HAS IT CHANGED ANYTHING OR NOT?
    WAS HIS COMMENTS ON THE NIS TODAY ACCURATE OR NOT?
    IF SO, IN WHAT WAY DID HE ERR

    CAN ANYONE HERE DISCUSS ISSUES AT A LEVEL THAT EVINCES THAT THEY WENT TO SCHOOL OTHER THAN IN THE MONTH OF AUGUST?

    Reply
  13. Sylvester August 27, 2017 at 6:36 am

    What the hell!!! McDowall you need to take a seat . You telling me that after 8 hours you were in that meeting of the Social Partnership you are still “unclear whether the proposed follow up meetings would involve the entire Social Partnership?” Was that not a question that you needed to ask the Hon. PM before you left that meeting?

    Just like how you blundered in the meeting attempting to stray from the agenda, and the Hon. PM reminded you that you were the one who was the most vociferous in asking to have an agenda for the meeting at the planning meeting prior to that meeting? Boy bye .

    And no concrete decisions were taken at the August 1 meeting. I think you need to go away.

    Reply

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