PM answers private sector call for dialogue
One day after a plea from President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Eddy Abed for a meeting of the Social Partnership to avert a possible national shutdown, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has reportedly agreed to such a meeting.
Amidst joint industrial action by the island’s four largest trade unions in protest of the increase in the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), Abed had on Monday, urged all parties to make use of the Social Partnership mechanism, saying:
“…The best way to resolve situations such as there is through dialogue. If we can meet through the Social Partnership, I am certain we can make some headway.”
On Tuesday night, President of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) Charles Herbert was reported as having confirmed that agreement to the planned meeting was received late Monday. A date has not yet been set and it is not yet immediately clear whether the trade union movement will be a part of the meeting which has come in response to a request which the private sector made to the Prime Minister.
“It is something specific to the private sector, not the unions,” said the BPSA president. He noted that a meeting of the Social Partnership had previously been scheduled for August 18th. He also pointed out that this meeting had been set before the unions’ protest action which followed a 48 hour deadline which the unions had set for government to roll back the NSRL increase or grant a coping allowance to workers.
He noted that with the peak of the Crop-Over festival approaching and CARIFESTA (the Caribbean Festival of the Arts) right behind, the private sector was invested in ensuring that these “two bright sparks [for] the island’s revenue” came off successfully.
Abed welcomed the news that his call had been heeded, stating:
“I think that all parties want to be clear and sure when they come to dialogue of what they are asking for. The Prime Minister has the mandate to govern this country and I can only assume that he has taken the position that he is gathering facts and getting the necessary information required before he meets the private sector as head of the Social Partnership,” Abed said.