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EDITORIAL: Time for level-headed leadership


EDITORIAL: Time for level-headed leadership

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MONDAY, MARCH 13, may turn out to be a more significant day than was at first anticipated. It will be the start of the Estimates debate, to which all Barbadians should be paying keen attention.

Equally as significant will be a meeting by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), whose council will be in an emergency session to determine whether strike action should be taken against the Government over salary negotiations.

Public workers have been holding strain on wage increases since 2009. Since then this country has witnessed a period in which the cost of living has increased numerous times over. The situation has been made worse by the various tax impositions which have placed many people under severe economic strain.

It may very well be that jobs in Barbados are undergoing a slow but steady deterioration. No one can deny that for people to survive today they need to be working 40 hours a week at a decent wage. The economy is driven by good jobs, with good pay and benefits.

But on the other hand, we must be more productive and, more important, find ways to earn foreign exchange.

Given the prevailing circumstances, it would be wise for the union’s leadership to listen out this week. What Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has to say on Monday and all other elected parliamentarians throughout the week may give us a sense of what is to come and where we are going as a country.

What we do not need is Mr Sinckler, members of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party, any other politician or indeed the leadership of the trade union movement to tell us the terrible state of this country’s financial affairs.

The recent pronouncements by the independent rating agencies have all highlighted one thing – we are struggling and the outlook is not rosy.

The fiscal deficit is too high; the country needs to earn foreign currency and there must be a severe cut back in printing money to support what we can’t afford.

The NUPW needs to pay attention to all these things. The very public sector and other state agencies the NUPW and other unions seek to defend are clearly a big economic burden.

The unions can adopt a policy of dismissing all who may disagree with their positions, but attacking the message and the messenger will not result in the solutions we need at this stage.

The NUPW and all other unions must consider what’s at stake and not let it be said years from now that they were doing little more than being troublemakers and rabble-rousers.

Barbados needs level-headed leadership at all levels to deal with the serious problems facing the country. One more week of tolerance may be to the advantage of the entire nation.

Narrow self-interest must not take precedence over the national good.