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Minister of Labour, Esther Byer-Suckoo.


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Barbados unemployment rate at 10.7 per cent


By Patricia Thangaraj

THE unemployment rate in Barbados over the last two financial quarters has been around 10.7 per cent.
This is according to Minister of Labour, Esther Byer-Suckoo who spoke at the weekly Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Lunchtime Lecture yesterday on “The Social Protection Floor: Is Government Doing Enough”.

She said that it was good that this island has managed to keep unemployment levels down to around ten per cent considering that there are some other countries where the unemployment rates are much higher.

In addition, another thing that is commendable is that the Government continues to abide by the belief that was coined by the Prime Minister that “Barbados is more than an economy, it is a society,” meaning that they recognise that the well being of the society is just as important to a nation as its economic growth, stated Byer-Suckoo.

The Minister said that the people of Barbados acknowledge this and have faith that their government would take care of them and this is probably why there has been relative calm in this island compared to other countries such as England, where there has been rioting.

She said that proof of this caring government can be seen in the partnerships that the Government has developed with various stakeholders where they have sought to ensure that there are as few layoffs as possible and companies across the board have abided by this, keeping on staff even if they have to take other measures like reducing employees’ working hours in order to prevent them from having to layoff staff. Layoffs have only occurred in situations where there was no other choice.

The Minister said that the reason why she choose this phrase, the “social protection floor,” which was coined by the UN, was because “unlike the social safety net, where there are cracks to fall through, the floor is more solid and more stable,” thereby providing more protection for the most vulnerable populations in Barbados to
receive all of the social
security measures such as comprehensive medical care required for them to recover financially and otherwise.

Aside from keeping the unemployment rates down, another way that the Government has sought to abide by the social protection floor is to increase the amount of time that persons, who out of work can receive unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 40 weeks, stated Byer-Suckoo.

The first 26 weeks would be at the original rate where the person would receive 60 per cent of the salary that they were earning before they were laid off and the
remaining 14 weeks would be at a lower rate where the unemployed person would receive 40 per cent of the salary that they were earning before they were laid off.

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