Government Levels Assault at the Social Partnership
“…new found fellowship” between employers and the labour movement, warning that cats and mice, lions and lambs, and mongooses and chickens make strange bedfellows” – Prime Minister Freundel Stuart
Barbadians continue to be awestruck at the public wrangling between two partners of the tripartite Social Partnership. Several Protocols were agreed between the three groupings of union, private sector and government since 1993 to ensure a harmonious climate was maintained in the county as was practicable.
After the 20,000 strong protest march on Monday that defied the attempt at intimidation by the Prime Minister in his harangue delivered at Almond Bay the day before, members of the BU household monitored the debate in parliament yesterday full in the expectation the government would retreat to conciliatory language given the perilous state of the Barbados economy. The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) invoked Standing Order 18 of the Standing Orders and requested the disgraced Speaker Michael Carrington to allow debate on the request tabled by the Opposition to debate and ultimately urge the government to convene a meeting with the Social Partnership to defuse the escalating industrial climate that could lead to social unrest. The resolution was unsuccessful as far as the government indicating that it will meet before the next scheduled meeting on the 18 August 2017. What was revealed by the Prime Minister is that the next meeting of the Social Partnership will be publicly televised.
The BU household like many social commentators has a problem with the position government has taken post march on Monday.
If the government is ONE stakeholder of three that compose the social partnership how is it respectful to the other two around the table to arbitrarily decide the format of the next meeting without soliciting consensus? Bear in mind we have TWO members of the three asking for a meeting with the one.
The Prime Minister indicated there were note takers (someone from GIS) present as is the practice when meetings are held with government officials, it is also the practice in the private sector. Why not allow officials downstream from the three sides meet to compare notes instead of allowing the emotional and political temperature of the country to rise at a time we should be unifocussed on growing productivity?
After meetings where more than one party meet to discuss issues that are contentious or have the potential to be it is not unusual for a joint communiqué to be issued or the official minutes of the meeting circulated and approved between all the parties to ensure all are aligned with decisions taken. This is not rocket science.
With less than a year to go it boggles even the average mind why the Stuart government with dissipating political stock would display the level of intransigence it has so far. When Sinckler in his contribution to the debate yesterday mentioned that he recommended to the Prime Minister to make the next meeting with the Social Partnership public, members of the BU household sniffed the stink smell of a rat. It didn’t take long for Prime Minister Stuart in his 42 minute wrap up for the trap to be laid for the two estranged stakeholders of the Social Partnership. Prime Minister Stuart confirmed that the next meeting will be a public affair. It is worthy of note Speaker Michael Carrington allowed the prime minister to exceed his allotted time by 22 minutes for which he apologized. What credibility does Stuart and this government have when it has refused to implement integrity legislation AND to act on voter irregularities Stuart admits to witnessing last general elections. To much politics!
What is the trap?
The private sector has been pushing government to cut public sector jobs. The Unions will obviously resist any attempt to cut jobs for reasons we know. The government in this scenario sits at the table and plays the hand dealt based on the interaction between the Union and Private Sector. An amateurish attempt to make political capital leading into a general election.
Is there a government anywhere that would see almost 10% of its population or 20% the eligible vote march in its Capital and decides to ignore it less than 9 months from a general election?
Yet another intuition about to be destroyed by this government.