Futile protest

Strike will solve nothing, Byer-Suckoo says

The island’s public servants are being warned that a strike will do nothing to get them the 23 per cent pay rise they are demanding.

In a swift reaction to an announcement today by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) that its members would begin a two-day strike tomorrow over pay demands, Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo said industrial action would not move Government from its position because it simply could not afford an increase.

“I don’t know who has advised them but I gather that they believe that this is the way to achieve their goals. Barbados cannot afford this right now but it would be for the persons who were in the negotiations, including to the unions, to determine that they want to discuss other options,” Byer-Suckoo told Barbados TODAY less than an hour after the union ordered its members off the job tomorrow and on Friday.

“Even if they were to take action it is not really going to change the situation in terms of what Government can and cannot afford. Everyone who has been commenting on our economic situation would be well aware that this is an extra cost that Government cannot bear right now. No amount of action is going to change that.”

The NUPW announced today it would call out its members for “two days of protest and resistance” after it failed to force the Freundel Stuart administration to meet its January 15 deadline to conclude protracted wage talks, which have dragged on for about two years.

“Public servants have taken the brunt of this Government’s draconian cost-cutting measures and can take it no more. We deserve better,” the union said in a statement announcing its planned action.

The two sides held preliminary talks in June 2016, from which the leadership of the union had emerged saying it was upbeat about the negotiations.

However, the talks have gone sour since, as Government has stuck to its offer of zero per cent, although when they last met just over a month ago, an offer of a $49 million lump sum coping subsidy was put on the table,

The union roundly rejected the offer, and instead demanded a $60 million lump sum, which would allow for an across-the-board $2,500 payment, to help cope with the rising cost of living occasioned by the much-hated National Social Responsibility Levy announced by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler last May as part of an austerity budget.

In explaining the rationale for the January 15 deadline, NUPW President Akanni McDowall had told Barbados TODAY his union was cognizant that Parliament must be dissolved by the end of March of this year, therefore civil servants were not about to squander their chances of securing a salary increase by allowing the matter to drag on until Stuart finally decides to ring the election bell.

“We gave the Government until the 15th of this month because if they do not give us a salary increase soon and another party forms the next Government then we will have to start salary negotiations all over again, which could take an additional two years,” McDowall had said.

However, this afternoon Byer-Suckoo took aim at this argument, pointing out that Government was a continuum and that the poor financial state of the public coffers would not change in the short term regardless of which party came to power.

She therefore argued that there was no need to rush the negotiations in the five remaining months before the general election is constitutionally due.

“At the end of the day I don’t know that they would have to start the process all over again [in the event that Government changes] because they are negotiating with the Ministry of the Civil Service, and the fact is that whether it is before elections or after elections, the most significant factor that is affecting the negotiations is the Government’s position financially.

“Regardless of who comes to office the financial situation is not going to change in the short term. Rushing to do this before Parliament is dissolved is not going to ease the purse of the Government at this time,” the minister stressed.

colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

13 Responses to Futile protest

  1. meakai January 18, 2018 at 1:52 am

    What is your role?
    Provocative? No.
    Devil’s Advocate? No
    Clickbait? Bet your life.
    Tiresome? Only?

    Go on.

    Reply
  2. Buddy January 18, 2018 at 4:06 am

    The Minister of Labour has spoken. Am I to assume that this is the official response that the NUPW was waiting on ?

    Reply
  3. luther thorne January 18, 2018 at 5:10 am

    She would say anything.
    When is a good time for a Strike ?
    There is always objection and rejection.
    Slave Masters objected to Slavery

    Reply
  4. Randolph January 18, 2018 at 7:34 am

    They could afford to take back their 10% with backpay.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous January 18, 2018 at 9:05 am

    The whole country should strike against these public servants. Really!. Mia are you behind that?

    Reply
  6. Atman January 18, 2018 at 10:29 am

    They really expect people to buy the idea that there is no money to pay an increase…Lord knows how much they pocket for themselves over the last 10 years.

    Reply
  7. Sue Donym January 18, 2018 at 11:09 am

    It’s all in how one looks at it, isn’t it… if they’ve waited 10 years, 5 months (at most) would seem like rushing now.
    Where does money come from to celebrate anniversaries, to support memorial tournaments, to fund overseas delegations, to replace official vehicles…
    And where does money go to when hotel sales are completed, when NSRL collections surpass expectations, when income tax and VAT refunds are retained by the BRA, when road taxes, licensing, duties, water rates and fees are collected…

    But it is agreed that things can get a bit muddled – like when the Housing minister talks more about life-saving potholes; or when the environment and drainage minister seems like the only one NOT talking about the south coast mess…

    Reply
  8. Ossie Moore January 18, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    What would happen if the entire island of Barbados , known as ” buh”bados , also know as Bim , and also known as Little England and also known as the Land of the sea and sun ( and sewage) . . . .. went on strike and their was no one to welcome the tourists from the 5 cruise boats expected in the harbor this week or next week ?

    Reply
  9. Ossie Theophilus Moore January 18, 2018 at 1:00 pm

    With all of the free education that was thrown at these idiots; where did they store it ? May I want to belive. In their foot ? I can see no national logic coming from the unions involve and their action is a complete disservice to the citizens of the nation. So I belive you can all comrade your selves into astounding economic difficulties down the road of discovery least not recovery.

    Reply
  10. lorenzo January 18, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    This lady was rejected at the polls and forced back on us by the PM collecting a salary and telling career civil servants represented by their Union not to strike for an increase when MP,s including her got back their 10%,give me a break.Ms Byer is a lucky lady ,having been a failure in her current Ministry having resolved very few disputes and still remain as a Minister.I believe she should stay quiet.

    Reply
  11. MARIA Holder January 18, 2018 at 8:05 pm

    Public officers run this country so mess with them, insult them, frustrate them, demoralise them. Keep it up. They do not necessarily expect 23% – they want to be taken seriously so they just want a quality sit down with the bosses.

    Reply
    • MARIA Holder January 18, 2018 at 8:05 pm

      Nothing wrong with that Esther

      Reply
  12. luther thorne January 19, 2018 at 12:10 am

    Sue
    You are so right.
    Where has the money gone ?
    I believe that Politicians should leave running the Country to the professionals and lets save those BIG SALARIES and Perks Overseas Travel costs and per diems. People running for political office should be people with.money and property , of a certain age , competence and ability to run things administratively. Leave the technocrats to do their work instead of what you have now: that is Politicians interferring with the Public Service and doing a lot of crap, pretending that they are gods and only them can get things done but messing up everything. The popularity contest call a General Election needs a revamp. Only people with a desire to serve and paid a Stipend should be allowed to run and administer the affairs of the Country. Leave the professionals to do what they do best. Right now Politicians are a drain on the Public purse.

    Reply

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