Last week the National Union of Public Workers, with it seems a little support from the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, undertook a 48-hour industrial action against the Government.
The crux of the grievance is justified in that public sector workers have not been granted a pay rise in almost ten years.
No one can deny that during the same period prices have risen significantly, from the supermarkets to the public markets to the retail stores.
Taxes have also gone up as has the price of about almost every possible item on sale anywhere and everywhere in Barbados.
Some of the price increases have been pronounced and announced, others have been rather quietly imposed on the consumer.
So, people all across Barbadians are faced with an increase in their cost of living. It is a difficult situation for people who are employed and who have benefitted from salary increases over the past decade.
It must be a genuine difficulty for those whose salaries have remained stagnant.
So all trade unions in Barbados would have a justified case to agitate on behalf of their members.
The Police Association must be blue vex as its members must work long hours and make major sacrifices as they protect this island. Many struggle to make do on their salaries.
The Barbados Nurses Association cannot be happy to see the demand made of its members who must work day and night and on public holidays to provide quality care to the sick and infirmed. The money they are getting does not reflect the service they provide.
The Barbados Union of Teachers, like the BSTU, and the principals at both secondary and primary levels all know the tremendous sacrifice they make daily by imparting the best education, training and simply guiding thousands of young minds along the correct path. Their pay hasn’t movement either.
The same thing applies to the prison and fire officers, the emergency ambulance workers, the sanitation service employees and so many other workers who give a fair day’s work.
They have all held strain.
They have heard the comments from the Government. Even if they do not agree with what Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler or the Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer Suckoo or for that matter what Prime Minister Freundel Stuart have all said about the economy, others on the outside of the political fence have been speaking.
The words, or rather, warnings from a wide range of financial analysts and economists have been very clear.
Indeed, former Governor of the Central Bank, Dr DeLisle Worrell has started an uncomfortable and difficult conversation which none of the political parties may want to take up.
And there is Marla Dukharan, a regional economist who has also warned of the danger in caving into the NUPW’s demands.
The NUPW’s members have obviously listened.
The plain truth is that no company or Government given Barbados’ perilous financial situation can expect a 23 per cent wages hike as the NUPW demanded.
It simply makes no sense; indeed it is plain dumb to put such an offer on the table.
The difference in demands between the NUPW and the BWU as well as CTUSAB tell a story. It is unlikely even the Unity Workers' Union will go to the table with an unrealistic position.
The NUPW should tell its members and by extension the wider public where the money will come from to fund these proposed wage increases.
Indeed, what will such an increase mean to servicing of pensions, to NIS and PAYE payments?
But, it is obvious the members are thinking for themselves.
The 48 hours ended and the NUPW was back at square-one.
The problem is still there and needs to be properly addressed.