A Country In Limp Mode

Toni Moore, BWU

For eight years the country has been gripped in an economic recession – negligible growth notwithstanding in a quarter here and there – although it feels like a lifetime, an unaccustomed position for thousands of Barbadian if we count from the last major economic crisis of the early 90s. Clearly Barbadians- judging by how we have responded (not responded) to the economic challenge-  must legitimately question our leadership and management abilities as a nation. We have reached the point instead of leading the region, an accustomed position since Independence, we have retreated to comparing our current state with the base of the base in the region. The boast that Barbados is a model Black country boxing above it weight class has become an idle one.

With less than a year to go until the next general election bell is rung AND weeks after the minister of finance Chris Sinckler delivered a ‘budget’ he promised will create a surplus on current account by reducing the deficit by 567 million dollars in the current financial year –the country’s major trade unions have decided that now is the time to pressure the government to modify the rate it has applied with the implementation of the contentious National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) from 10% to 5%.  BU SUSPECTS the NSRL issue is a ruse by the BWU, NUPW, BSTU and BUT to give impetus to a bigger objective, that is, to force a change in government.  Such naked affiliation by the major trade unions to the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) Opposition does a disservice to the movement. This will be a blog for another day.

If a student does not study well in the school year, cramming one week before promotionals will not make a difference. Using the same analogy -how will it be possible to reduce the deficit by 567 million dollars in less than a year before the next general elections IF the government has been unable to implement policies to achieve same in the last eight years? What is magical about this year?

To the apolitical Barbadian it is evident the economic model that has served Barbados for the last 40 years has run its course. The tourism goose is laying eggs, however, not in the same quantity or quality. An ageing population, unsustainable cost of social services, a burgeoning middlecalss manufactured on rising household debt, means that it is all beginning to collapse because we have not been able to match production with spend. As important is that as a people we have to adopt the right behaviours to collectively guide the country in the direction that will reasonably sustain  ALL. What should these behaviours be?

It is laughable that trade unions are calling for a wage hike for employees in the public service and the wage bill by the same sector by any measure has been identified as the reason for the worrying state of government finances and has resulted in the printing of money. The end result is that  domestic debt to GDP is ranked at one of the highest in the world. BU cannot ignore the fact that there continues to be haemorrhaging in government’s finances outlined in every Auditor General’s report since 2007 to the present.  BU’s comment should not be taken as an attack on public sector workers. If we are honest we should be able to agree that the public service has become a place that the political class has padded to satisfy narrow interest.

What is playing out in Barbados gives currency to the Orwellian view that all the tenets we should adopt to protect our fragile democracy we seem happy to jettison  in favour of alternative facts,  incompetence and corruption from the entrenched political class and the partisan political minions. The foregoing made all the more ironic if we continue to boast of being a highly educated nation. The national budget allocation to education supports it.

The trade unions will again impose a go slow on a nation and what will be achieved? There will be enough workers who feel intimidated to ensure the public service remains somewhat productive and the country will limp along. This is where we are a country limping along.

Barbados Workers Union Has Become Irrelevant

Submitted by Philip Skeete
Sir Roy Trotman

Sir Roy Trotman

I should be grateful if you [BU]  would get in touch with Sir Roy and tell him that a strike by the members of the BWU will not cripple LIME operations in 2013. All Sir Roy will be doing is crippling the Barbados economy. LIME’s survival depends on people using cell phones. While the workers  are on strike, their idle fingers will be sending text messages to friends and family. Tops-up will be the order of the day.

Pointless boasting that the Union successfully took strike action for 3 weeks against the Telephone Company 31 years ago. Those were the days when radio telephone operators connected people  worldwide.Now every home in Barbados has a MagicJack [Skype] and while they are on strike, they will be giving their friends and family a blow by blow commentary on what is going on.

Those were the days when newspapers had to wait hours for Reuters and Associated Press stories. Today, MCTV, Direct TV and Satellite receivers mounted on top of  news media houses provide them with data before Reuters or Associated Press can get  it right. Remember the 9/11 attacks? FOX News and CNN brought the news into the homes of Barbadians. They didn’t have to wait till the following day like back in 1981 (Bartel strike) to get the news. Every day youngsters watch European football on MCTV or on satellite TV at bars all over Barbados. LIME doesn’t provide these services. Nobody is waiting for an operator to answer the phone at LIME to send a telegram to friends and family overseas, Sir Roy. MagicJack is there for that purpose.

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