The George Brathwaite Column – Social Dialogue for Development

George Brathwaite (PhD)

“We are losing sight of civility in government and politics. Debate and dialogue is taking a back seat to the politics of destruction and anger and control. Dogma has replaced thoughtful discussion between people of differing views.” – James McGreevey.

Thousands of Barbadians are getting into the festive mood although the sweet songs of calypso and the rhythms of bashment soca will hardly drive away the burdensome taxes that are pounding down on the population. The social commentary will not minimize the concerns that Barbadians have about their troubled economy and society; if anything, the constant reminder indicates that change is necessary. As it stands today, Barbados is troubled by low economic growth, a stinging fiscal deficit, increases in the incidence of poverty, an unemployment rate that is still unacceptably high – particularly among the youth, rising gun-related crimes, and a preponderance of socioeconomic inequalities persists. Key economic drivers for growth appear to have become elusive and investments have slowed significantly. Simultaneously, workers and their trade unions are somewhat weakened by their abandonment of total solidarity, and may even be scapegoats for capitalists’ interests. Clearly, the Government is overwhelmed and by the daunting challenges and inundated by calls for improved performances.

Cabinet Ministers have resorted to increased bombast and propaganda while referring to one or more citizens as enemies of the state. Indeed, it is not uncommon to hear Government spokespersons and elements in the business class peppering labour with blame for the insufficiency of national productivity. Ironically, a few days ago, the Minister of Labour implied that the unions were in denial, and misrepresented the facts on not getting salary increases. That Minister suggested that the trade unions are now becoming part of the problem given a reluctance to accept that the Minister of Finance was following the best option under ‘grim’ macroeconomic circumstances. In cruel mockery, it was none other than Prime Minister Stuart pontificating that: It is better … to be going to work every day and having to deal with a higher price here or higher price there than not to be going to work and having to deal with the same prices anyhow. … If you are not going to work you can’t deal with the prices at all. You can’t get the things you want.” The twisted logic from these spokespersons almost always conclude that their ways of conducting national affairs are the only viable actions holding sway and gravitas.

Nonetheless, Barbadians know that talk is cheap. Getting by one day to the next is becoming far more expensive for the average man and woman, the worker and unemployed, businesses both large and small, and the abled and disabled. Unless Barbados finds and uses the appropriate tools to ease the plight of the nation, eventually all may be consumed by the economic setbacks and societal inertia that have visited this country for too long. Barbados needs to discuss whatever are the problems in a truthful, forthright, and non-partisan manner. A useful starting point is the tri-partite ‘Social Partnership’; this mechanism offers the opportunity for meaningful social dialogue.

Today’s political and civic leaders have tended to send lots of mixed messages, many of which are overly politicized. The actual content of divisive communications is as much disconcerting as the difficulties facing the island. Barbadians have sacrificed much during the past five years. Yet, many feeling the woe, perceive that sacrifice has rolled over into punishment for electing a less than stellar legislature. The overall credibility of the current administration has waned with every piece of spin and misrepresentation. Some persons prefer to drift along until the ‘pocketed’ date is given by Prime Minister Stuart, although it is not a logical approach given that the wait can be legally and politically extended for selfish reasons. Regardless, compromise is necessary in the national quest to overcome burdens of the day because ominous clouds are already on the doorstep.

Through the Social Partnership there can be a rebuilding of trust amongst local stakeholders. This factor leads to some questions for which the answers can again give Barbadians the hope for progress and benefits. What useful and pragmatic lessons are extractable and usable from the Social Partnership and purposeful social dialogue? What can stakeholders do to urgently redirect the Barbados economy and society on a pathway to prosperity and justice? How many more groups ought to comprise a workable partnership of cooperation? One recalls former Prime Minister Owen Arthur contending that ‘the social partnership should never become unwieldy and, should be able to evolve to address challenges as they arise’. Surely, the challenges today are serious and Barbados must consider broadening the partnership of social dialogue. Included in the decision-making process should be the youth, the church, and other important cogs in civil society. These segments of society cannot remain on the periphery.

Lo and behold, Barbadians learnt last Friday of Prime Minister Stuart’s confession in which the citizens’ livelihoods have badly floundered. Stuart would say nebulously that in time to come “life will get somewhere near back to the normal to which we have been accustomed.” Clearly, the current administration is widely adrift from Barbadian norms, and needs all the help it can get. Despite the resident tendency to reject those with an alternative plan of action, the administration is desperate. Whichever political party forms the next administration, regardless of any premonitions, it must rely on the potency of working together, re-building trust, and doing the right thing predicated solely on the national interest.

In fact, this is precisely why the Barbados Social Partnership was formulated. The severe economic and corresponding challenges of the early 1990’s, prompted a phase of innovation that was adaptively borrowed from the Irish. The Social Partnership was envisaged to function for the national good, and saw the Government, employers’ representatives and trade unions’ representatives gravitate towards social dialogue. By the end of 1991, it became a worry that Barbados was forced to resort to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for assistance. The Social Partnership became ‘a core strategy to avoid the prescriptions’ advocated by the IMF, and to ward off devaluation of the Barbados dollar. Subsequently, in 1993 after gaining consensus in which mutual respect and interests led to ‘a paradigm shift in the concerts and practices of governance’, the partnership established the first ‘Prices and Incomes Protocol’. The tripartite partnership and the ensuing protocols determined a package of ‘measures to reverse the gradual erosion of the country’s competitiveness’ by addressing specific economic problems and their social consequences.

Despite the very austere and trying circumstances Barbados had to undergo, the framework of social dialogue helped to shape a national discourse for development over the next 10 to 15 years. Social dialogue was fused together through interdependence and cooperation. Importantly, the nation was committed to seeing off the worse. The partnership would eventually guide Barbados to safety. Two Cave Hill academics – Wayne Charles-Soverall and Jamal Khan – wrote an insightful article indicating that the willingness of stakeholders to engage in social dialogue, the willingness to achieve national consensus based on pragmatic solutions, the ability to place national interests above all else, and the resolve to implement bold decisions were crucial in forging cooperation among entities normally focussed and sometimes hemmed in due to their differing interests. Today, there can be little doubt that Barbados is exposed to another string of ‘socioeconomic and political crises’ which can derail national development. These challenges must be urgently and adeptly addressed beginning with responsible and honest social dialogue.

(Dr George C. Brathwaite is a political consultant. Email: brathwaitegc@gmail.com)

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98 Comments on “The George Brathwaite Column – Social Dialogue for Development”

  1. Simple Simon July 12, 2017 at 1:58 PM #

    @Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger July 12, 2017 at 9:40 AM “refusing to lock up Leroy Parris for fraudulently selling senior citizens illegal policies…”

    You seem to have forgotten that Leroy Parris is not a leper, that he is Prime Minister Freundel Stuart’s friend.

    Like

  2. Simple Simon July 12, 2017 at 2:58 PM #

    @Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger July 12, 2017 at 11:59 AM “they should have had at least one or 2 specialized urologists trained in that new prostate procedure.”

    In another section of the media I commented a few months ago that “is it not strange that Barbados has 2 urologists, 17 obstetrics/gynaecologists, (page 182 and 183 of the 2016-17 Yellow Pages) and 14 veterinarians (page 41 of the 2016-17 Yellow Page) and asked why we have more doctors to look after our dogs, than to look after our “doggies?”

    I was promptly slapped down and asked “why do I have to bring everything down to sex.” As though sex is somehow a bad thing, or an unimportant thing. Please note that I was not talking about sex, but about a deficiency of health care and health care planning for our men.

    So I shut up. After all I have no dog nor doggie in the game. I have no father, brother, husband, brother, uncle or son. So why should I care?

    But now that our DPP has died, maybe those brighter and more “decent” than I am will ensure that his death will not be in vain. Because he is not the only high level official with prostate cancer, who does not have readily available, that is in Barbados urological care, and our poor men don’t have such care either.

    I understand that some of our specialists may not be listed in the yellow pages, but in what sort of alternate world do we fool ourselves into believing that fewer that 6 urologists, maybe fewer than 3, are an adequate number to look after a community of more than 100,000 men with a seeming genetic disposition to prostate cancer.

    In addition have we asked ourselves if the Arch Cot tragedy has anything to do with the DPP’s death?

    I have nothing more to say.

    Like

  3. Simple Simon July 12, 2017 at 3:15 PM #

    Our DPP could afford to fly to Florida, and no doubt so can our 1% and our political class, but what about the other men, the men who grow our food, who do our fishing, who build our houses, sell us our gas, pick up our trash, keep us safe while we sleep at night. What about them. They are men too.

    Right?

    Like

  4. Carson C. Cadogan July 12, 2017 at 3:29 PM #

    DAVID

    “they will ask members to strike WITHOUT pay if necessary.”

    So am I to take it that the Trade Unions strike funds are still all empty?
    What have they done with the strike funds, bought too many BMW’s . Mercedes Benzes, paid too many high price Barbados Labour Party Lawyers?

    An investigation should be launched into the manner in which the Trade Union movement spends workers contributions. Workers would be alarmed at how their contributions are wasted on lavish spending and life styles by the Trade Unions top brass.

    Like

  5. Carson C. Cadogan July 12, 2017 at 3:37 PM #

    DAVID

    “they will ask members to strike WITHOUT pay if necessary.”

    When the workers strike without pay, The Trade Union top brass will still be collecting their five figure salaries plus benefits.

    The only sacrifice to be made will be those who can ill afford to make sacrifice if the mouthings of the Trade unions are to be believed. They are up and down saying that the workers are poor and in bad state yet that is who they are calling on to strike without pay.

    Some of the large sums of money these Trade Unions are paying to high price Barbados Labour Party Lawyers for nothing, should be paid to the workers, after all its their contributions which the Trade unions top brass are squandering.

    Wunna BLP brown nosers really take Bajans for johnnies.

    Like

  6. David July 12, 2017 at 3:50 PM #

    @Fortyacresandamule

    Why mention the USA with its diverse economy to rebound, too besides, it is a market maker.

    Like

  7. Vincent Haynes July 12, 2017 at 4:07 PM #

    Miller

    Forty….is into finding and making excuses……as I have said he is comfortable with the staus quo.

    Like

  8. enuff July 12, 2017 at 4:16 PM #

    Wuh shiite dah the Head of the Civil Service write in dah Memo? lmao

    Like

  9. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger July 12, 2017 at 4:35 PM #

    `in another section of the media I commented a few months ago that “is it not strange that Barbados has 2 urologists, 17 obstetrics/gynaecologists, (page 182 and 183 of the 2016-17 Yellow Pages) and 14 veterinarians (page 41 of the 2016-17 Yellow Page) and asked why we have more doctors to look after our dogs, than to look after our “doggies?”

    I was promptly slapped down and asked “why do I have to bring everything down to sex.” As though sex is somehow a bad thing, or an unimportant thing. Please note that I was not talking about sex, but about a deficiency of health care and health care planning for our men.

    So I shut up. After all I have no dog nor doggie in the game. I have no father, brother, husband, brother, uncle or son. So why should I care?`

    lol….say more, say more Simple.

    it is a crying shame that men control the field of medicine on the island and they seem to care so little for each others prostates, they only display penis sympathy for certain things sex related but none for the deadly prostate cancer.

    …there should be as many urologists on the island as there are vets…as you said, i have no doggie in Barbados` deadly, uncaring game, those close to me are all dual citizens.

    …although the deceased was said to be involved in things he should have stayed out of….the below was some of the side effects of the procedures he had.

    Such risks include cardiac or pulmonary events, infections, blood clots, or injuries to structures around the prostate. he was on borrowed time for quite a while.

    Like

  10. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger July 12, 2017 at 4:41 PM #

    Simple…all they would have had to do is wait him out.

    ..too many people play dangerous games with people`s lives, health and wellbeing in Bim, for their own selfish gains.

    Like

  11. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger July 12, 2017 at 5:21 PM #

    what the hell is wrong with these drivers on the island, why are they so careless with other people`s lives. it seems as though there is very little respect for life.

    https://www.barbadostoday.bb/2017/07/12/update-road-fatality-at-westmoreland-st-james/

    Like

  12. millertheanunnaki July 12, 2017 at 5:29 PM #

    @ fortyacresandamule July 12, 2017 at 1:58 PM
    “The literate on the history of economic development and success reads more like a crap shoot venture than anything else. Some of you guys are too unreasonable hard on Bim in the broader scheme of things.
    Most small high-income countries and territories all over the world that lack a natural resource base , resort, basically to three things: Tourism, real estate, and financial services. Barbados is no exception. Even those well developed tiny states in Europe over 50% of their gdp is built on the above mention services. For years, prophets of doom, naysayers, political opposition, and crtitics alike have predicted the demise of Barbados to no avail.”

    Well, then, stop comparing yourself (Bim) to others (more so-called developed countries).

    As the poem Desiderata goes: ‘you might just become vain or bitter’ thereby falling into the trap of hubristically feeling yourself better than your neighbours and believing in the myth that God is a black Bajan.

    Why not compare yourself to Bermuda, Cayman Islands or even Singapore and see where you stand?

    If Barbados is perceived as being better than its neighbours it has nothing to do with the present crop of political leaders or captains of industry.

    Barbados has always been ahead of the social development pack going way back into colonial days when many Barbadians were so well educated and trained to the extent they were posted to the other islands and afar to be the conveyors of education and to occupy middle and senior management positions in the various public services.

    Today where does Barbados find itself? No longer punching above its weight but almost at the bottom of the pile of failing black states in the financial back-yard of junk bonds thanks to a bunch of corrupt hand-to-mouth book-learnt black johnnies posing as politicians.

    “If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

    Like

  13. Carson C. Cadogan July 12, 2017 at 5:36 PM #

    This was posted on my feed:

    “WHEN YOU VOTE FOR THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS, YOU HAVE STILL VOTED FOR EVIL

    Is the BLP actually campaigning on a promise to take Barbados to the IMF? And we are supposed to vote to go to the IMF? It is like they are twisting reality to say girls are boys, up is down, and Chuckie is our friend!

    What fresh hell is this?

    If elected, will the BLP reverse the taxes and levies that have been imposed and give the civil servants a raise or nah? I ain bout the rhetoric. Answer my direct questions with unequivocal answers.

    Tell me what yuh offering.”

    R. Gilkes

    Like

  14. millertheanunnaki July 12, 2017 at 6:22 PM #

    @ Carson C. Cadogan July 12, 2017 at 5:36 PM
    “If elected, will the BLP reverse the taxes and levies that have been imposed and give the civil servants a raise or nah? I ain bout the rhetoric. Answer my direct questions with unequivocal answers.”

    Carrion, here is a vacillating answer you can provide to the idiot boy Gilkes who seems blissfully unaware you guys have passed this way before:

    The BLP will do the same thing it did in returning the 8% cut to the public sector workers and what the current DLP did by retroactively reinstating their 10% sacrifice in salary because you ought to know the economy just as in 1991is and will continue into 2018 firing on all cylinders but instead of batting likes Sobers it will be batting like Deandra Dottin.

    Here is a blast from the DLP past: Job Nos.1, 2 & 3 are “Cost of Living, Cost of Living, Cost of Living”.

    Don’t you think that on basis alone the DLP ought to be fired without any severance payment whatsoever?

    Mene, mene tekel upharsin! A clear case of what goes around also comes around.

    Like

  15. Carson C. Cadogan July 12, 2017 at 6:26 PM #

    Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger July 12, 2017 at 5:21 PM

    I take it that there are no road fatalities in Canada?

    Like

  16. Well Well @ Consequences Observing Blogger July 12, 2017 at 6:50 PM #

    Carson…this is what your government needs.

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/98623/-brazil-president-lula-sentenced-nearly-corruption

    `BRASILIA – Former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a top contender to win next year’s presidential election, was convicted on corruption charges on Wednesday and sentenced to nearly 10 years in prison.

    The ruling marked a stunning fall for Lula, who will remain free on appeal, and a serious blow to his chances of a political comeback`

    A senior citizens disembarks from a bus in a little layby on a narrow stretch of road with no safety signs or reduced speed limits, two speed demons in trucks wider than the road manage to collide and kill this lady….and you are trying to draw a comparison to Canada….where……her family would be compensated in a timely manner for their loss and the speed demons severely punished for her death.

    you see why we wonder about you intelligence level Carson, your fellow idiot in Canada Alvin would have made the same dumb analysis, is it a yardfowl thing.

    Like

  17. Carson C. Cadogan July 12, 2017 at 7:32 PM #

    Well Well

    So this does not matter then?

    “Canada Road Traffic Crash Car Accidents. There are about 160,000 road accidents in Canada every year. According to the Transportation Safety Board approximately 2800 to 2900 people are killed on Canadian roads each year.”

    Like

  18. Carson C. Cadogan July 12, 2017 at 7:35 PM #

    Well Well

    When are you, and the other old age pensioners on Barbados Underground, going to stop trying to portray Barbados as the worse place on Earth?

    Like

  19. Carson C. Cadogan July 12, 2017 at 7:48 PM #

    Well Well

    What Are The Causes Of Most Accidents In Canada

    (1) Racing and Reckless Driving

    (2) Running at Red Lights

    (3) Tailgating

    (4) Ignoring traffic rules

    (5) Driving In the Wrong Direction

    Why is it that idiots like you take every single opportunity to try to pull down Barbados , when where you live is hardly any different?

    Like

  20. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger July 14, 2017 at 4:17 AM #

    Carson…whenever you go on one of your Tourette’ s like tirade, it shows your ignorance of what is going on and what is wrong in your tiny island, this is the reason I posted on that female’s death by speed demons…..it appears to be the 4th death in the same spot, which should be rectified but being neglected by the minister of transport who is being being paid a salary by taxpayers, but never seem to be doing his job for the taxpayers, but always happy to be available for his corrupt, criminal master.

    https://www.barbadostoday.bb/2017/07/12/deadly-junction/

    “Deadly junction
    residents react to island’s 16th road fatality

    Added by Davandra Babb on July 12, 2017.
    Saved under Local News
    0
    The death today of a former Ellerslie Secondary School janitor at a junction in Westmoreland, St James has prompted calls for a roundabout in the area in an attempt to put a stop to the frequent vehicular accidents there.

    Sixty-one-year-old Mary Downes was struck and killed at the junction moments after disembarking a bus, having earlier visited her doctor for therapy.

    Residents told Barbados TODAY the junction has been the scene of many accidents in recent times, at least three of them fatal.

    In early March 48-year-old Anderson Dacosta Joseph of Westmoreland was struck and killed in the area by a vehicle driven by 19-year-old Nicholii Greene of Carlton, St James as he was crossing the road with his five-year-old son, who was also injured in the accident and had to be hospitalized.

    Like Downes, Joseph was a stone’s throw away from home when he died.

    The two vehicles which were involved in the deadly collision that claimed the life of 61-year-old Mary Downes.

    “I don’t like these accidents here so all the time. They’re happening way too often. This is the third in a short space of time,” said Jeffrey Smith.

    “The only thing that could be done is a roundabout being put there,” advised another resident, Marston Broomes, in echoing Smith’s sentiments.

    Member of Parliament for St Thomas Cynthia Forde joined the chorus of calls for action to “mitigate the loss of life and the tremendous injury”.

    Like

  21. Well Well & Consequences Observing Blogger July 14, 2017 at 8:32 AM #

    Carson Cadogan….this lady’s death is on you.

    http://www.nationnews.com/nationnews/news/98668/tragic-twist-fate

    A tragic twist of fate
    CARLOS ATWELL, carlosatwell@nationnews.com
    Added 14 July 2017

    0 1 0 0Google +1Print
    mary-downes

    Mary Downes pointing out, back in March, how fast some motorists sped along Westmoreland. She lost her life on Wednesday following an accident. (Picture by Nigel Browne)

    A VOCAL advocate of safe driving along Westmoreland, St James, has been tragically silenced.

    Mary Downes (below), 61, was killed on the spot following a collision between two large trucks along the same Westmoreland. She was actually standing at the side of the road at the time as she had not long disembarked from a bus. mary-downes-face
    The impact of the vehicles caused one of them to careen off to the side, killing Downes.
    In March, the WEEKEND NATION had taken another look at the problem area, which has recorded a number of deaths and near-misses over a long period. (CA)

    Like

  22. Fractured BLP July 15, 2017 at 7:16 PM #

    https://www.barbadostoday.bb/2017/07/15/dont-go-there-johnny-warns-ex-prime-minister/

    And the BLP charlatans on this BU platform really believe rational thinking Barbadians will take them seriously ……… BLP united me arse ????

    Wait till the bell ring ……the BLP calling for elections ????

    Canuoan!!!!!!!!!

    Like

  23. Hal Austin July 16, 2017 at 10:47 AM #

    Has anyone seen the recent NY Times magazine article asking the question: Is China the new colonial power?
    Over to you prime minister Stuart.

    Like

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