Government has proposed a plan to workers in the tourism sector, which, once finalised in the next four weeks, will see them going back to work.
After a meeting with workers in the tourism sector at the Wildey Gymnasium and via zoom, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins, along with Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Barbados, Professor Avinash Persaud, discussed a proposal which focused on businesses in the tourism sector, mainly hotels, re-engaging their employees with a strong training component.
Senator Cummins pointed out that the session with the workers was a way to hear “some of the issues that they are facing and to get their responses and input on a proposal that the Ministry has been drafting, in consultation with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, the direct tourism services, and with input from the labour unions as well”.
Professor Persaud noted that this is a very critical time for the country, due to the effects of COVID-19 on the economy, and it is in this environment that a comprehensive solution was sought to deal with the looming problems.
“We’re consulting heavily with the industry, with the workers and developing a plan that will re-engage workers, … and also creating new green investment plans, that will transform our sector and move it towards a fully renewable and conserving sector. But the key component is how we re-engage all of our tourism workers, getting them back to work.”
According to Professor Persaud, Barbados has the unique opportunity to use this moment to either toe the line and do nothing, or use this moment to go to the next level. That next level, according to Minister Cummins, is to re-emerge from this period with a tourism product that has been transformed, but also with a tourism worker that has been upskilled, retooled, retrained and repositioned, to be the frontline worker in a new tourism economy, where Barbados re-emerges far more effective, efficient and competitive than we were before.
Also present at the consultation was Chief Executive Officer of the BTHA, Senator Rudy Grant; Chairman of the BHTA, Geoffrey Roach; Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Deputy General Secretary, Dwaine Paul; President of the Intimate Hotels, Mahmood Patel; and Permanent Secretary, Donna Cadogan.
In relation to the proposed programme, Senator Grant stated: “I think the programme, which the Government has come up with, is one that is very innovative, very transformative. It allows for there to be an enhancement of the overall visitor experience…. Members of the BTHA are very excited and supportive of the programme and they are looking forward to the execution of this programme.” Meanwhile, BWU’s Deputy General Secretary, Dwaine Paul, said: “The Workers’ Union believes that the programme that has been developed so far is a very good start to where we need to be.… And in a pandemic, where choice and options are so limited, we believe strongly that what has been designed is innovative; it is creative and it creates a situation where everybody gets something, but not necessarily what everybody wanted, but for us, it is a start.”