As the new year 2021 commences, the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) extends best wishes to the Government and people of the nation.
As the country enters the new year, the Social Partnership of Barbados remains in a state where it is forced to consider ways of responding to the myriad of challenges which have confronted the nation in 2020.
The labour movement is conscious of the need for the Social Partners to work aggressively to find workable solutions towards resolving the social and economic fallout which have emerged as a consequence of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The Congress maintains that it has to remain focus on fundamental issues such as the upsurge of unemployment, the protection of workers’ rights, addressing the matter of poverty alleviation and social deprivation, preserving the social protection floor and the revival of the state of the island’s ailing economy.
At this time, CTUSAB is mindful of the potential impact the global COVID-19 pandemic can have on the island’s already ailing economy. This ranges from a falloff in the tourist arrivals, to the down turn in business activity in the hospitality, entertainment, restaurant and services sectors; sporting and other related mass-based activities including the annual Crop Over Festival.
Whereas the Congress is understanding of the efforts of the Government to stabilize the island’s economy in this difficulty time, CTUSAB however holds the view that priority must be given to ensuring that the society remains COVID-19 free; as this will be part of the required platform to aid the economic recovery effort. The Congress commends the Government on its management of the COVID-19 pandemic in Barbados, which to a large measure has placed the health of the nation at the forefront, and most importantly, kept Barbadian businesses open and people employed.
While the intention behind the recent COVID-19 protocols which were put in place by the Government for the six-day period, 31 December, 2020 to 6 January, 2021, is understood to be a short-term measure, a case can well be made for these protocols to be extended during the tourism season ending April, 2021. These measures along with the introduction of electronic surveillance mechanisms must be seen as necessary tools to protect the health of the nation, and more so, workers in the hotel industry, hospitality, restaurant, entertainment and services sectors; all of whom invariably come into direct contact with visitors to our shores as well as returning nationals.
During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the labour movement has not lost sight of its role in being vigilant in the protection and safeguarding of the rights and welfare of workers. Labour recognizes that it is challenged by the pressures of the labour environment, where many of the gains made by labour are under threat of being eroded. The shift to contact employment and homeworking, threaten to undermine the collective bargaining arrangements and to destabilized the notion of workers’ unionization and trade union recognition. In strengthening it role in this aggressive labour environment, the labour movement must now press its demands on Government for the enactment of supporting labour legislation.
Against this backdrop, CTUSAB urges its member organizations to remain committed to the representation of the causes of labour, and do defy any attempts directed to marginalize, divide or fracture the labour movement. There must be a resolve by all players in the labour movement in Barbados to remain committed to a restoration of a united labour front.