Is The Social Partnership Working?

Submitted by People’s Democratic Congress (PDC)

Senator Geoffrey Cave

The Social Partnership in Barbados has served its time and the country has to move on to the creation of other greater nation building initiatives.
It is high time that those who presently occupy the Social Partnership be told this in no uncertain terms. Otherwise, the broad masses and middle classes of Barbados must at this stage get up and make sure that this piece of social decay is removed from the political landscape of the country!

What the country needs right now, instead of this very ideologically barren and discredited Social Partnership – is serious and visionary intellectual political leadership for further national growth development coming from outside this DLP/BLP/Social Partnership foolishness! While it is true that the Partnership would have been a stabilizing factor and influence throughout the 90s and into the mid 2000s, it has, throughout its existence, remained true to form – it has been one hell of a methodology in political corporatist engineering that was designed only for a particular time, and to suit a particular purpose. Hence, many people will remember that it emerged out of the very tumultuous 1991 structural adjustment and stabilization period in Barbados. And, too, will remember that both its historical emergence and its social function denoted a desire by a few people within the major political government business and labor components of the country, to devise a  common and stabilizing approach to some aspects of national problem solving, at what was then a very critical juncture in the country’s history.

Moreover, it was founded on a political compact to advance and protect – in a backhanded manner – the fundamental, and sometimes interlocking, personal political professional financial interests of the MAJOR actors involved in each of these social segments that happen to be so fundamentally and diametrically opposite to each other within the Barbadian society.

So, the truth is that the Social Partnership was never designed to protect the fundamental political class  interests of the broad masses and middle classes of Barbados, but was designed to ensure that the majority of the latter classes continue to be severely politically exploited and socially marginalized by those private sector, governmental and trade union oligarchs that have used the bailiwick of the Social Partnership as another process through which they would advance or protect their fundamental interests, whatever their color or religious or gender backgrounds.

Furthermore, a serious analysis of the Social Partnership would show that it has not really been a partnership either, in that, it has never fused any of the operations of the three segments at any levels into a whole; it has never had established a secretariat; it has never been legally incorporated in Barbados or anywhere else; it is not even an association; and it has never even set in train a process to carry out a review and evaluation of its performance over the years and to look at its future.

By its adhering to the ritualism of signing off on those meaningless Prices and Income Protocols every now and then, is what this gathering of social conservatives of the least progressive kind has become  famous for, while still being the creators of nothing worthwhile, or the problem-solvers of nothing significant, in Barbados.

Moreover, by being so certain in their own minds that when they had brought about the Social Partnership in 1991, that they had brought it about on the basis of the assumption that the main “top down” hierarchical authority management structures in the Government, Business and Labor segments will have remained – in the distant future – essentially the way they (the structures of the major components) have been for years,  would have meant that the founding oligarchs would have been paying very little attention to what this arrangement itself was capable of doing  – that is, proving that the era of “top down” hierarchically structured trade union and shareholder-owning companies can be brought to an end in Barbados – which – whenever it happens, and on the basis of the correct quantity and quality of political educative stimuli being injected in the corporate social structures of Barbados – will surely bring about a great phase in the historical development of Barbados. This Social Partnership shows that the social political basis can be easily laid for workers becoming exposed to the power of ownership, to the nuances of business development and therefore becoming democratic partners in the enterprises in which they themselves operate.

But still the PDC has to ask: where was the Social Partnership when the rates of electricity, water, and telephony companies in Barbados would have recently been and continue to be skyrocketing, and are especially devastating on the poor and the middle classes?

Where was it when this DLP Government imposed significant taxation on the backs of the broad masses and middle classes in the 2008 and 2010?

So, the news that the Social Partnership in Barbados is in the process of setting up an action team to look into many problems facing the economy, business and society in Barbados (Saturday Sun, March 24, 2012), would obviously have had the PDC very aghast.

Also, the idea that the setting up of this so-called action team would have come about through “certain concerns that were raised by private sector business and labor” during a meeting of some of the people within the Social Partnership some weeks ago could not be anymore farcical than it was, too. Imagine that there has been no existing culture of the Partnership having regular productive meetings and having any effective goal-oriented, capacity building and implementation processes within the Partnership itself, but the Prime Minister of Barbados can so loosely talk about an action team with committees?? Another set of useless undesirable talk shops!

If it was the case that the Social Partnership was fully functioning, it surely would have meant the pre-empting of such a so-called action team. Indeed, it smacks of smug, self-serving posturing that Mr. Stuart, Mr. Trotman, and Mr. Cave would want to make the public of Barbados believe that such a so-called action team could be  quickly or slowly, and still be enough to re-energize and re-focus an already moribund Social Partnership.

However, it is obvious the Social Partnership has itself reached the inevitable point of no return. For, no amount of nostalgia, and sentimentally clinging to long past events and associations will cut it where it is clear that the Social Partnership must be brought to an end, and that very great and revolutionary initiatives, such as the ushering in of Executive Coalitional Government for Barbados, Constituents initiating, debating, and passing the laws of the country, Making workers become Partners in the enterprises in which they operate, the Abolition of Taxation, etc. must be brought into existence.

Finally,  what is clear though is that given what Mr. Cave is reported to have been saying about the Almond Beach Resorts Affair, that he had warned Almond Beach Resorts, after it had bought Casuarina and Morgan Bay in St. Lucia, that its high debt could lead the company into serious trouble, and that if Almond had to go under, it would cause tremendous pain for the Barbados economy, since the resort’s main property, Almond Beach Village in St. Peter employed some 500 people and the Hotel chain brings in over 50 000 visitors a year (Mid-Week Nation, Wednesday, March 21, 2012), it is clear that his concerns – which have also been the basis of a Saturday Sun, March 24, 2012 editorial – are but reflective of so many things that the Social Partnership is not equipped to handle but that because of whose fundamental interests that are at stake, they are asked to be considered by the Social Partnership, without it being seemingly realized that there are some very fundamental problems associated with these things.

0 thoughts on “Is The Social Partnership Working?

  1. What the country needs right now, instead of this very ideologically barren and discredited Social Partnership – is serious and visionary intellectual political leadership for further national growth development
    “Shadows and dust ”
    And I am guessing you are saying the PDC can provide this right ?
    “Shadows and dust”

  2. The Social Partnership is working as intended, the problem however is that the stated goals of the Social Partnership were never the reason for the formation of that body. It was created to control the workers and has done that very effectively. Whenever the workers have demands the Social Partnership springs into action and the dispute is invariably resolved to the workers detriment. At the end we hear a lot of platitudes, where the workers are always praised for their restraint but they see no real benefits.

  3. while it is true that the social partnership has not lived up to all it was promised to deliver, we must recognise that as with most things these days it was marketed to cure all ailments. we all know that things are hyped beyond all realistic expectations but that is the trend these days. i musat disagree with caswell in that i do not think that it was created as a means to control workers although i must confess that it has been sucessfully been used for that. Caswell is well aware that the main hinderance to workers rights and compensation are influenced by other factors.

    1 leadership of unions looking out for and fighting for the best interests of workers and not feathering their own ego etc.

    2 workers not being united and willing to stand up for their and their brothers rights and well being. we focus on ourselves and our getting through for ourselves. everyone break for them selves

    3 identification with a political party first, either for or against, before any identification with the union and its fight.

    Maybe a few more that dont come to mind right now.

    Divided we stand united we will fall, or something like that

    • Ted

      I was there when the fore runner to CTUSAB was formed. I can assure you that the entire country was duped. The social partnership was born out of that same conspiracy to control workers.

  4. Just heard in the VOB news that the President of the BCCI , Andy Armstrong, wants the UWI Cave Hill Campus to establish in the town centre a ‘satellite ‘ campus catering to part-time students as a means of revitalizing or “resuscitating” Bridgetown.
    The man really living in the past.

    Has he never heard about “on-line” teaching and learning? The Internet is here to stay to facilitate virtual learning. What Bridgetown, what! With all those muggers, vagrants and urine and faeces smelling alleys blocked with garbage. First clean up Bridgetown and spruce up the buildings (including the Empire theatre & cinema) and then people might just return.

  5. Tedd,

    The time for workers becoming partners (part-owners) in the enterprises in which they presently work has arrived.

    The PDC has already been interviewing some workers and supervisors from various work places in Bridgetown with a view of the formation of a local organization that will be about making sure that the status of workers in companies, corporations, etc. in the public and private sectors in Barbados is transformed to one of partners in the partnership enterpises of the future.

    This higher stage of existence is absolutely necesssary if persons are to have greater stakes in the way forward for commercial business social and governmental enterprises in this country, if persons are to have a great sense of ownership and control of their own destinies, and to have a greater sense of business and social responsibility in the country, and if this post colonial country is to become a world class society.

    Trade unionism must therefore be seen as a thing of the past.

    Too many times in the country trade union leaders and organizers see workers as simply being workers and producers for the commercial business social and political ruling classes, and not as potential owners of the processes of production and distribution of commercial and social goods and services in the country.


  6. @The People’s Democratic Congress | March 28, 2012 at 10:19 PM |

    If the movement or interest group you represent really had a vision for the workers of Barbados you would not be focusing on the commercial rip off merchants aka importation & distribution bandits of Bridgetown. There is no future in importing Chinese junk and American owned brand processed foods that are killing the same workers.
    What you should be demanding is for the Black-run administration elected by the majority of workers to repossess the many plantations and tracts of land recorded in or off the books of CLICO Barbados and sitting there idle to be sold or leased to the workers and black entrepreneurs. The only real wealth of this country lies in its people, land and marine resources; not rat infested stores in Bridgetown owned by a parasitic minority which otherwise don’t get involved the society or contribute to the communities clearly demonstrating they don’t have the interests of this country at heart.

    Let us talk about agri-business to be owned and controlled by the workers in conjunction with their credit union financial clout. Forget about the Chinese junk peddled from those rat holes and vermin infested restaurants with suspect food servings laced with MSG and other addictive chemicals geared at gluttonous black people.
    Many things these days (including vehicles) can be imported directly over the Internet by the average consumer or small ‘co-operative’ buying groups. What is required is for the same Black-run administration to free up the market and disband the mafia cartels and commission agents.

  7. i agree that workers should be encouraged to become shareholders in the companies however the evidence is that when firms issue IPO’s they are usually under subscribed by the workers. How many workers invest in the shares of public companies? Most people see this as a thing for the wealthy and white people, the result is that it remains so and the stock market is is hardly acticve.

    people need to become aware of invwestment opportunities and embrace buying shares, attending AGMs , demanding dividends, looking at mutual funds and not focus only on bank and credit union accountts.

    even with workers bbeing shareholders it is still importamnt to have unions to protect workers from exploitation and allow them a decent standard of living.

  8. Tedd,

    If you have read us properly you will realize we are NOT talking about Workers having shareholdings in Companies, as the concept of shareholding duly belong to Companies, whether or not some of the shareholders are some of the workers.

    However, what we are hereby dealing with are Partners in Partnerships – Workers evolving into a higher state of existence – becoming Partners in future Partnership Enterprises in Barbados. These Partnership enterprises will be the only multi-member corporate business entities possible in Barbados under a future PDC Government.

    So we are writing about a paradigmatic shift in the industrial commercial setting in Barbados in terms of the shift that will take place from the structure and culture of ownership and command and control of Companies, to what will be the structure and culture of ownership and command and control of these Partnerships.

    Partners will be remunerated in Profits, Partners will have substantial SAY in the directions in which these enterprises will be going. And Partners will have the right to access all critical informations relative to the operations and functionings of these Partnership enterprises.


  9. Sir Roy Trotman tonight informed on CBC news that Neal and Massey are part of the social partnership and as such should have informed Almond’s staff members, giving them more time( to be ready for this) . Is the social partnership working ?

    • Onions

      The social partnership is working exactly as it has been for its entire existence. (Read my comment on March, 27 2012 @7:12 p.m.) Nothing has changed. Whenever something like this happens, Sir Leroy would make some intervention, just talk mind you, appearing as though he is speaking for the injured party and then what, NOTHING!

      Workers in this country continue to be deceived, or rather continue to allow themselves to be deceived because they refuse to look beyond the surface of those who they pay to misrepresent them, oops, should that be represent.

    • @Caswell

      When unions negotiate on behalf of workers do they read the balance sheets of the company to judge its financial health? It is now evident that Almond was in financial decline for almost 10 years now. Were the workers receiving their increases under the collective agreement and therefore all was thought to be hunky dory? The BWU needs to answer a few hard questions on this one as well as a partner in the business.

    • David

      In response to your comment at 5:55 a.m. companies in more matured jurisdictions allow the unions to see their balance sheets so that the unions can judge for themselves and moderate their demands based on the companies’ ability to pay. In Barbados if a company allows the union to see the balance sheet that would be more in the realm of the exception rather than the practice. That said, however, the compensation for the lower level workers is not usually the problem: the level of pay for executive management is almost always the load of bricks that breaks the camel’s back.

  10. @onions

    Wait onions you watch the DLP tube wud dat initself is news . so with so much of what was being said about the financial troubles of almond wasn’t it the responsibilty of the unions to prepare the staff members for the inevitable.

  11. No ac ……CBC and in Barbados today as well. Why you so cynical today doa….like ya cant take a lil rub ?You win some …you lose some look at it dat way babes.

  12. @ David Caswell
    Yesterday on the call in program Brass tacks..a caller (Miss P) a proclaimed retired accountant….made an interesting observation and suggestion. She asked if Government does not review these failed companies financial statement yearly (Private and Public) TO PROTECT the vulnerable workers ?The answer is obviously NO. But she has a good point…..who is watching out for the workers ? Had this scrutinizing of ALL companies’ accounts being done ( by a professional Govt auditor)…maybe CLICO as well as Almond’s case…things would have been noticed.

    • @onions

      Are the accounts of companies audited by external (and otherwise) auditors?

      It is the audit statement which is used by individuals et al to make informed decisions.

      Bear in mind the balance sheet is only a snap shot of the performance of the company anyway.

      Government has a more direct role with government and quasi-government agencies.

      The government cannot be all things to all men.

      Go and take a look at the Auditor General’s report and how it has been ignored under BOTH governments through the year.

      We need to stop making joke.

      What is happening in Barbados today is the manifestation of a model in decay.

  13. @ David
    Are the accounts of companies audited by external (and otherwise) auditors?
    Ah ha….there lies your fallacy…never mind Enron, Fanny Mae and other too (soon CLICO)…learnt dearly that of recently auditors’, independence are been compromised and this duty should be followed up by internal (govt) auditors.(Sarbanes Oxley Act was a result of recent failures).

    Not saying Govt is to doing every thing…..but there is need for more vigilance.What making joke what David…you are now in my realm.This bone of contention is responsible for the financial world collapse.

    aside: Now hear CEO of Caribbean Airways resigned….bet you another company failure coming…substantiating my point.We are not MONITORING ENOUGH these companies.Who is policing the police?
    In all these failures audit failure must be the blame. Auditors have by taking on additional duties have compromised their independence, and their role need to be revisited.

  14. @Onions

    What you do well is to expose all the problems and then give vague solutions. How can government monitor in the way you suggest when the Auditor Generals office has been neglected under successive governments? The newly established FSC Office continues to be hampered by lack of resources. The Police Department responsible for investigating fraud is absolutely underresourced. Why don’t you ask Desmond Sands? He should be able to update up.

  15. @ David
    The Auditor General Office……I hold my tongue..ya hear
    FSC…I await Mr. Carrington’s works.But if history be our judge.. a long road ahead…We like the lawyers..weaving a uncontrollable web….intentions are good..but politics will intrigue.

  16. As to giving vague solutions….what do you think ? yes David …same ole same ole……onions stew is not tasty.

  17. @ Caswell
    Private companies may feel nervous showing financials to unions for fear that they will be enlightened …and use the bottom line profit as ammunition to go after wages increases…..while not considering plough back profits to refurbish the plant.
    If Warner did not provide for plough back profits to refurbish Almond..he should be fired….other investments or not..the buck stops with him.

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