Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, has committed to continuous engagement and dialogue with employees’ and employers’ representatives as he seeks to strengthen the industrial relations climate in Barbados.
Speaking during a courtesy call on Wednesday with General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Senator Toni Moore, and a delegation which included former General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman, Mr. Jordan noted that one of the major issues in industrial relations was the lack of dialogue.
He said: “This Ministry will be a Ministry that will not shy away from the issues or dialogue. We will engage workers’ and employers’ representatives and will also examine our processes and our systems and seek to align them with where this Government is going as it relates to the protection of workers’ rights, industrial relations generally and ultimately, the building of a just society.”
Senator Moore told the Minister that labour was facing a very difficult time in Barbados where difficult decisions had to be made and the Ministry of Labour had a critical role to play.
She maintained: “The Ministry and the BWU have to be able, not necessarily to always agree, but to commit to fairness and a levelling of the playing field so that workers do not feel trampled.”
Senator Moore drew to the Minister’s attention challenges the BWU was experiencing with a number of employers relating to issues such as equal pay for equal work, and the right of workers to join a trade union.
She urged the Labour Department and the Ministry to be more proactive and to recognise their role in maintaining balance in the industrial relations system.
Minister Jordan, in response, said that he had noted the concerns raised by the union and would continue discussions on all the matters. He said that he did not want to give the impression that the resolution might always be the one the union wanted or agreed with but he pledged to take all sides into consideration in making decisions.
He said that he was also committed to examining systems and cultures within the Ministry and, in consultation with the Cabinet, making the changes necessary to move Barbados forward.