Since the DLP have not corrected the fatal flaws in their economic development plans, and the BLP are unwilling to offer any workable solutions, then if we continue on the current path, devaluation of the Barbados dollar is certainly foreseen. Based on their past governing experience, Barbadians are unprepared for the level of misery that they will experience if they elect either of these two parties to form the next government. If you are currently employed, then you need to start preparing for the nightmare scenario – which is the focus of this column.
If your employer has to convert foreign currency revenues in order to pay all or part of your salary, then your employer is an exporter. Persons in this ‘export’ category include: maids and gardeners in foreign owned villas, all employees in the tourism industry, all employees in the international business industry, and all employees of those who directly export goods or services. These employees need to politely request a meeting with their employer, either individually or collectively, in order to renegotiate the terms of their salaries.
Currently, the basis of most Barbadian employees’ salaries is the Barbados dollar. Employees in the ‘export’ category should request that the basis of their current salaries be in US dollars, but paid in the equivalent Barbados dollars. If the company claims that it only exports say, 50% of its products, then the employees should not expect to have more than 50% of their salaries based on the US dollar, but paid in the equivalent Barbados dollars. This should protect at least part of their salaries from a devaluation of the Barbados dollar, which the IMF has repeatedly warned is a likely inevitability if we remain on the current path.
In order for employees to protect a larger part of their salaries, the company needs to export more. This will require that the employees innovate by working better (not necessarily harder or for longer hours), and that the company is effectively managed. Employees need to keep asking themselves this question: “How can I do this task better, faster, more accurately, and using less resources.” If the consequences of failure are low then just try it. However, if the consequences of failure are high, then get prior approval from your supervisor.
Employees in management posts need to manage the company using the most effective parts of the ISO 9001 Quality Management System immediately. The entire ISO 9001 System does not need to be implemented at this stage, managers just need to start using the most relevant parts.
You need to start negotiations now. You are more likely to succeed if you do not discuss any type of salary increases in these negotiations. The singular aim of this meeting is to protect your future salary. If you wait until after the expected devaluation, then your employer may be tempted to greedily add the devalued portion of your salary to the company’s profits.
If you are employed by a statutory corporation, then you will likely be the first on the proverbial chopping block if the statutory corporation is badly managed and unprofitable. A properly managed business is normally profitable. Therefore, it is in your family’s interest that you work in an ISO 9001 quality management environment. The ISO 9001 system encourages innovative thinking among all employees and addressed complaints permanently.
If statutory corporations in Barbados have not implement the ISO 9001 quality management system yet, especially given the obvious foreseen dangers, then that is an intolerable level of irresponsible mismanagement. Employees should request a meeting with the CEO and insist on being managed in accordance with ISO 9001. If the CEO says no, then they need to appeal to the Chair of the Board. If the Board also says no, then both Board and CEO are behaving like children carelessly playing with toys.
Unfortunately for you, those toys are your family’s financial future. Therefore, those employees need to contact their unions and shut down all irresponsible statutory corporations until both the Boards and CEOs are replaced with more responsible people.
The most vulnerable persons will be the unemployed and under-employed. These people should be trained to start home-based business, where most of their sales are on the Internet and most of their revenues are in foreign currency. Given the business and Internet components, the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation and the National Council for Science and Technology should facilitate workshops to teach Barbadians how to set-up profitable businesses with little-to-no start-up money – with dispatch. I am available to help.