Wish for consumer movement
New Year’s message from H. Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt, Director general, Barbados Consumers Research Organization, Inc.BY THE TIME this New Year’s message is published at least 50 per cent or six remaining days of the 12-day season – December 25 to January 6 – will still be left.
The reason for the season is the celebrating of the birth of Jesus. This tradition validates accepted practices. It standardises and canonises norms.
It differentiates between sound and false doctrines. But we must not negate the fact that the newborn grew up to become a man.
It is safe to conclude that culture follows on from traditions. Jesus took His cue from the culture of His day. For He, too, drank wine.
A look at history is good to contrast what obtains at present. It may even help to assist how the future is shaped. In earlier times, the Roman Church had a system where people would pay the priest. Since the poor could not participate because of their lack of money, they were left out in the cold, so to speak.
People like Martin Luther questioned these things. Purgatory was a system where money was at the centre of the problem. Even today, we call it greed.
We still experience how some people with access to money finance political parties, while others with only a vote will assist in the formation of the Government. How is it then that those whose money cannot form Government appear to be the beneficiaries of the golden handshakes?
We are a volunteer advocacy body that represents the needs of all consumers. You see, those of us involved are consumers, too. So the rights and responsibilities of consumers must be the concern of the consumer movement. Our contrast to the trade union movement could not be more analogous and, therefore, falls into the same hypothesis. The real power of the consumers cannot continually be ignored.
A cursory look at some socio-economic issues: drinking and driving, neighbours, trade unions, businesses, the church and the Social Partnership, you would be tempted to think that consumers will not grow up, ever.
Drinking and driving: Legal curbs may appear hip, but are they sensible, given our fragile and limited economy? Our solution: to inculcate a level of continuing education to benefit all our society. We are still an educated people, aren’t we?
Neighbours: We know that at Christmas time it is fashionable for some people to embellish their houses with lights and other decorations. [Is there a] need for loud music that neighbours may not appreciate, perhaps to draw attention to where one lives?
Businesses: The corporate sector is vital to the economic well-being of our society. It is, therefore, imperative that businesses engage in corporate social responsibility practices that will assist the very people who keep the doors of commerce open.
Trade unions: The reason to exist for the trade union movement is about the rights of the workers. Many of the workforces have not had a pay rise since 2009 but, almost on a weekly basis, bear the brunt of the cost of living increases, unabated.
Social Partnership: The time has passed since the consumer movement must be given equal status to businesses and the trade unions for the purposes of membership of the Social Partnership. Once you do not discount the value of the vote of people, consumers represent the largest number of people in any society.
The church: Some people need to obtain a map of the area since the only time to remember the church is at Christmas. Or, because of obtaining some new frock, attending church becomes a priority, in spite of the saying “Render your heart and not your garments”.
We wish you season’s Yuletide greetings and a blessed 2013.