CTUSAB general secretary Dennis de Peiza. (FP)
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The following is the full statement from the Dennis De Peiza, General Secretary, CTUSAB.
On becoming an independent nation in 1966, Barbados joined the list of sixty-four commonwealth countries, which since 1939, have gained independence from the United Kingdom.
Under the motto of ‘Pride and Industry’, Barbadians today as a proud people, celebrate the fifty-third anniversary of nationhood. Reflecting on the past fifty-three years, Barbadians both at home and abroad, can be proud of the fact that the island state continues to grow, develop and mature as a nation.
To its credit, it has been described as “a country which punches above its weight”. This was an observation made by a distinguished world citizen in the person of Kofi Annan, the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and the seventh Secretary–General of the United Nations.
The growth and development of the nation can be credited to a number of factors. These include shrewd political leadership, the contribution of capital to business development, a productive labour force, an industrious people, and the work of a progressive, responsible labour movement which has been the champion of social, economic, political, and governance reforms.
As the nation advanced, it has benefitted from the civility of the people, political stability, a governance system which is based on the observance and respect for the democratic principles.
Going forward, it is for Barbadians to ensure that both civility and political stability are maintained, and that the democratic principles with which it identifies, are preserved and not tinkered with. As the nation celebrates its fifty-third birthday, it does so against the backdrop of a fiscal and economic crisis which has led to the implementation of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) Programme.
This has had the impact of reducing government’s expenditures, retrenchment of public sector employees, job displacement and a slowdown in business activity within the private sector. The end result of the crisis is the impact it has had on the social and economic well-being of Barbadians.
The labour movement of Barbados recognizes the magnitude of the problem which the country faces and therefore calls for a recommitment to nation building by politicians, civil society and the corporate community, if the nation’s fortunes are to be turned around in the immediate future. The revival of the economy of Barbados must be predicated not only on a willingness to make sacrifices, but also on a productive and resourceful people, who at all time undertake to strive for excellence.
We must be driven by what we can do for our country, and so this ought to be the catalyst for the developing of entrepreneurial and innovative skills. As a developing and maturing nation which has all intentions of continuing to punch above its weight, the citizens of the nation must have a greater appreciation for being selfreliant, creative and innovative.
It is through these drivers that a broader foot print of Barbados can be established within the global market place. The Barbados Labour movement in reflecting on the country’s pre and post-independence era, laments the fact that there still remains a high measure of dependency on external investment and foreign capital.
As the nation progresses in age, it is imperative that Barbadians continue to be educated about developing a consciousness towards the need to take the nation’s future in their hands. It requires that actions are taken to empower them to do so.
There must be a decisive plan of action to provide opportunities for our educated workforce to become the owners and shareholders of local businesses.
After fifty-three years of independence, the focus must now be centred on the consolidation of the local economy, and on stopping the haemorrhaging of the economy through the loss of foreign exchange, which goes towards the building of other economies.
As the world has become a global village in which there is a competitive labour market, there is the need for the incentivizing of Barbadian labour as a means of reducing the brain drain that is likely to rob us of our citizens who have the knowledge, skills, competencies and talents that are critical to the value chain, in the nation’s continued efforts at growth, prosperity and development.
On this the fifty-third anniversary of independence, the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, commits to maintaining its focus on people development, engagement and empowerment.
It is anticipated that this would inform the agenda of the social partners; with the understanding that the stakeholders will recommit to continuing the process of working together towards achieving the full restoration of the ailing economy, and the maintaining of a vibrant and sustainable economy of Barbados.
In the final analysis, it remains imperative that the people of this nation continue to be resourceful and productive, and recommit themselves to working together for the common good of the nation.
May God continue to bless the nation Barbados, and may it continue to grow in strength and unity.