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EDITORIAL: Action speaks louder than words


EDITORIAL: Action speaks louder than words

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Minister of Commerce Donville Inniss should be congratulated for his straight talk on the need for Barbados to become a 24-7 society.

He is right in his analysis that the “eight to four attitude and conduct must become something of the past. The world does not stop at 4 p.m. and wait until Barbados reopens the next morning”.

“I am a firm believer that all of this money being spent in overtime and excess pay to individuals should stop. It [would help] to create job opportunities for others but it also [would help] to stimulate more activity in the economy,” said Inniss as he commented on the practice of paying overtime.

We also agree that some of our labour laws are antiquated in relation to working hours and these must be addressed if this country is to become more efficient, productive and attractive to investors.  

And we are supportive, too, of his position that the trade unions and business people/employers need to have serious discussions to resolve this challenge in the interest of the development of the society and economy.

Of course we recognise, as was noted by Toni Moore, the deputy general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), that certain infrastructural changes would have to be made to make a 24-hour workday a practical operation.

As Moore said, those changes would have to include among other things a better public transportation system to ensure workers can get around, 24-hour childcare and elderly care facilities for those who would need such services, and better street lighting.

But as the BWU’s heir apparent pointed out, definitive action is required on the part of the authorities, that is Government, if this change is to ever become a reality.  

Though Inniss’ strident suggestion over the last two days for a 24-hour working environment is nothing new, such a strong statement accompanied with a commitment to do all in his authority to make it happen, may help give some impetus to this worthy idea.

However, for fear of asphyxiation, we would not hold our breath that any other action on this matter would be taken soon.

With all due respect to the minister, we say this because though he once consistently preached it could no longer be business as usual in Barbados, given the dire position of the economy, there has been little visible change in the manner in which his Government continues to function.

Indeed, their lack of urgency in implementing measures, some of which they had agreed on to deal with the fiscal situation, is often cited by analysts as a major reason for the economy not making any substantial improvement to date.

Clearly, Barbados’ going 24-7 cannot be done in isolation from legislative and infrastructural aspects intrinsic of such a move. And in all of these Government action is critical.

Therefore if Inniss and Government really want to see this change to stimulate the economy, they have to move with haste to make it happen and not just talk about it. Talk is cheap and definitive action speaks louder than words.