A Failure of the Social Partnership | Government Out of Step With Civil Society | Time for Workers to Rise Up!

We are well aware of the position of TNT as provider of corporate capital to Bajan business. We even wrote a paper about it. What you are doing however is helping us make our point. BS&T was largely controlled by the Mutual. Any undervaluation was a direct thief of workers interests. And the Mutual itself was owned by workers.

The larger point is that an historical opportunity was lost in the period around the early 1990’s. When you fail to learn from history you will be forced to repeat it. The only difference is that workers are not the owners/controllers of capital they could have been. But we continue to have feckless governments, unable to read what’s happening in the world and enslaved by self-imposed limited options.


During his post-march presentation, President of the NUPW Akanni McDowall to tens of thousands of Barbadians from all walks of life promised that the NUPW will sit with the other partners in the days ahead to plan next steps. It is always interesting to observe when labour and capital come together with shared objectives. In the Barbados context it is all the more interesting given the touted tripartite arrangement which consist of the  private sector, government and union. Clearly today’s demonstration is a blow to the social partnership that was born out of similar economic challenge of the early 90s.

We agree with Pachamama that representatives of workers need to change the narrative at the negotiating table in Board rooms across Barbados. We need to change the mindset that we have to be takers and not makers. It cannot be about percentage of wage increase, paternity benefits, tweaking grievance procedures, demanding coping subsidies and so on.  If the human element is promoted as the most important resource in any enterprise the owners of capital should have no problem agreeing to employees having a stake in the enterprise. Very few companies in Barbados have created employee stock ownership plans. Although Pachamama shares the view that the opportunity was lost in the early 90s to sensitize the Barbados market for workers to become significant owners of capital, it is never too late to redress.

The successful collaboration between the four largest trade unions and the Barbados Private Sector Association exposed the weakness of the social partnership. The union and private sector groups will always be treated as lesser stakeholders at the table when this government is present.  A prime minster gifted with leadership skills will mask the flaw.  When BWU withdrew from CTUSAB it weakened the optics of the social partnership because BWU as the largest trade union at the time did not need the clout of other trade unions to demonstrate power. It must be stated that the private sector in Barbados has seen a shift in the ownership mix in the last decade.

Is it possible that the union and private sectors can see more utility in forming a partnership bloc with the objectives being workers able to negotiate a share of the capital? In return the private sector is guaranteed greater productivity? A win win for Barbados?


  • millertheanunnaki

    @ David July 27, 2017 at 7:44 AM

    What is so novel about what he said?

    Wasn’t such a programme of restructuring of SOE’s announced since December 2013 and nauseatingly repeated ever so often even in the last budget presented by the same minister who announced it way back?

    Hasn’t OSA been begging them to do just that since 2011-2012 and boringly repeated in all of his subsequent speeches and words of advice?

    Didn’t he lose the last general elections because he put his political fortunes on the line by proposing a programme of planned privatization and turned the little old lady on the Transport Board Bus into a TV stat overnight?

    The issue is not what Donville, the motor-mouth bullshitter, regurgitates at every opportunistic event he nauseatingly suffers from verbal diarrhea but what is implemented to stop the fiscal hemorrhaging caused by those same unproductive parasitic SOE’s living in the guts of the taxpayers suffering from severe and rapid weight loss.

    Why can’t he (Dumbville) start with those agencies under his portfolio that are sucking on the sore nipples of the emaciated taxpayers?

    As a matter of conscience and principle he ought to tender his resignation from the Cabinet, stricken with the feverish complaint of implementation deficit disorder (IDD), if he is unable to influence his colleagues to do what the IMF will inevitably demand?

    Nothing will happen to those SOEs until the IMF takes full control of the fiscal direction for Barbados’s economic survival and the likes of GAIA and BWA are auctioned off like the BNTCL for a mess of forex to keep the island afloat in the short to medium term.


  • A fella say that ” It is not everybody who smiles with them, not everybody who marches with them,

    who really is committed to them and committed to the fundamental interest of the workers.”


  • @Miller

    Was interested in his comment the unions should stop its narrow focus on the NSRL and wage increases and look at employee stock options i.e.creating wealth for employees. Sounds familiar?


  • millertheanunnaki

    @David July 27, 2017 at 9:28 AM

    “Was interested in his comment the unions should stop its narrow focus on the NSRL and wage increases and look at employee stock options i.e.creating wealth for employees. Sounds familiar?”

    The recent parrot of that long proposed statement of change is an avid reader of BU and is only regurgitating what he sees written across the electronic pages of the most informative and reliable source of ideas and constructive criticism in the Bajan media.

    Let the ministerial verbal copycat put his implementation authority where his motorised mouth is.

    But such a proposal to facilitate the creation of opportunities for wealth creation and participatory business ownership for employees can only be widely achieved by contracting the commercial role of the State and divesting/outsourcing many of the activities/services currently undertaken rather inefficiently by a paternalistic government operating along a philosophy from a bygone era.


  • NorthernObserver

    From my experience, while conceptually “nice”, employee ownership in businesses which are NOT publicly traded is a challenge.

    I attempted it nearly 15 years ago. It was a dismal failure. After much time and money setting it up, and contrary to professional advice, reality was painful.

    3 years into it, one long term employee who was given and bought shares, had a marital breakdown. Suddenly ownership became an asset to be contested. Another employee went to work for a competitor, and legally challenged the predetermined method of calculating the value. We were sued by a third party, to whom an employee shareholder owed money, for ‘hiding assets’ in a debtor dispute.

    And were under constant pressure for dividends, something the 3 founding partners had rarely paid themselves.

    And by year 5, when certain long term employees had accumulated more shares than their newer co-workers, ownership became the foundation of disputes. (dividend income vs salary income).

    Partnerships are one thing. Trying to create partnerships in LLC’s is another.


  • @NO

    Barbados is not a litigious place to compare with over in away.


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