Barbados labour minister calls on citizens to help reverse economic woes

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday February 27, 2014, CMC – A senior Barbados government Minister Tuesday said every citizen must play a role in the turning around the ailing economy warning “if you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem”.

Labour Minister Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, addressing the Productivity Council’s Week of Excellence, said that whilst the Freundel Stuart government was fully conscious of the challenges and has a mandate to seek and implement solutions which will engender economic recovery, “we all have a role to play in the recovery process.

“We know that there is no panacea for all the challenges which we encounter, whether it be at the level of Government, social partnership, the workplace or even in our personal lives; but whatever the solutions we decide upon, ingenuity, proactivity and fortitude would make them attainable,” she said.

Noting that the adage “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem” was appropriate in these circumstances, Byer Suckoo explained that the ongoing recovery programme, though difficult, was necessary if some of the current problems were to be resolved.

“Government is actively working on solutions in the 19-month recovery programme that we’re all aware of, which includes reducing its expenditure and starting projects such as the Barbados Water Authority’s mains laying programme, which was started last week. 

“And yes, the retrenchments are part of that as well.  A painful prescription, I know, and like surgery it hurts, even while you know that there’s healing going on the inside.

 “You may not all agree with the measures that have been outlined…but now is not the time to sit around arguing about what Government is doing or not doing.  The fact is, government is now a part of the solution – (but) are we? Meaning ‘we’ at the individual level…what are you doing for the sake of your country that has done so much for you?,” she said.

The Stuart administration has implemented a retrenchment programme that would result in an estimated 3,000 public servants being made redundant as it seeks to reverse the economy.

The Labour Minister said country’s attitude to these and other challenges was not only crucial, but for various industries and sectors to thrive.

 “Poor attitudes have the potential not only to undermine the quality of work relationships, but they can create tension and conflict and undermine leadership and foster customer dissatisfaction, while undeniably hindering employee productivity. 

“And if there’s one solution that we can identify for every Barbadian, it would be to adopt, not only a positive attitude to our challenges…but also a good attitude to our work,” she noted.

Meanwhile, the Deputy General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Toni Moore, says while much emphasis has been placed on the financial impact of the economic downturn and the resulting job losses, the impact on health should not be forgotten.

“There has been little attention given to the fallout of crises such as this one, (and the impact) on human health…the current economic downturn has serious human costs (such as) suicide and depression.”

Lamenting the lack of research to highlight the impact of mental health in the workplace in the Caribbean, Moore explained studies from the United Kingdom indicated that “mental health problems cost employers about 30 billion pounds a year.

“ I’m sure if we had statistics for Barbados and the region, it may not be in that amount but per person, (but) the impact would be similar.” Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)