(left) General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers, Roslyn Smith, in conversation with President of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, Cedric Murrell, yesterday.
Business Monday: NUPW willing to help increase productivity
General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Roslyn Smith, says that trade union will assist with efforts aimed at increasing worker productivity in this country, but will not do so if those efforts infringe on workers’ rights, go outside the laws of Barbados, or against the principles found within the Social Partnership Agreement.
Smith made her position clear as she addressed the opening of a workshop on productivity improvements for small and micro enterprises, hosted by the Barbados Employers’ Confederation, the International Labour Organisation and the Caribbean Employers’ Confederation at the Accra Beach Resort.
“The issue of increased productivity continues to be a goal vigorously chased, and in most instances appears to be out of the reach of employers. Similarly, in the public sector, Government has sought to introduce mechanisms aimed at increasing productivity with limited results. But often times, individuals with authority within Government departments and offices, which are run by the statutory boards, come to loggerheads over the means used to reach a utopia based on increased productivity. Our goals remain the same, but methods used to reach these goals lead to conflict, long and sometimes tortuous meetings without resolve, go-slows and strike action,” she said.
The union boss said while there are times that strike action works, as was seen recently when the NUPW was able to attain a seven per cent increase for workers at the Grantley Adams International Airport, she admitted that strikes and go-slows should be used sparingly. She contended that such actions should be a last resort when bringing issues of aggrieved workers to light. This is especially so, she maintained, as there is legislation and the Social Partnership Agreement, which stand as “paramount documents which honour principles of good faith and best practices when seeking to bring resolution to a plethora of workers’ issues”.
With that in mind, Smith maintained that while productivity should be of concern to businesses, the Government and trade unions, it should be the business of the employees, those who are at the root of increased productivity. She made the point as she warned that without their belief and consistent efforts, productivity, instead of being a goal, will continue to be a challenge.
The NUPW official bolstered her premise while pointing to a number of concerns of employees, who she lamented continue to grapple with poor working environments, pay which is not consistent with their duties, and the increased cost of living in this country, and a lack of respect from senior members of staff.
“It is with these continuing workers’ issues that trade unions are often seen as a thorn in the side of businesses and government departments, when they see productivity on the horizon but out of their reaches,” she said.
To that end, Smith reiterated that while the NUPW is willing to help, it will continue to protect its “nucleus” – the members. (JRT)