Trade unions are not ???irritants in the society???, but rather, they are integral to this country???s development.

That was Prime Minister Freundel Stuart???s strong message yesterday as he addressed the annual Barbados Workers??? Union???s May Day Celebrations at Browne???s Beach.

Mr. Stuart lamented that there were still ???some Philistines??? around who believed that trade unions were not necessary, but were some kind of ???embolism??? blocking the smooth functioning of the society.

The Prime Minister told the large audience: ???From time to time, trade unions and employers??? organisations will clash; from time to time trade unions and governments as employers will clash. But these clashes must not be seen as any threat to the very stability of the society.

???Trade unions have their work to do; they have to represent with all the vigour and all the sincerity, at their command, their constituents in the workplace and it behooves all employers ??? to engage trade unions in good faith since trade unions, governments and employers all have the same objective of seeing Barbados become a better place. I know that it is not always pleasant to have to face the demands of trade unions.???

He stressed, however, that there was a mechanism in place for dialogue between labour, capital and the State. According to him, that tripartite mechanism has ensured that any differences were resolved or lessened in a very civilised and humane way.

Mr. Stuart said Barbados has always been able to rely on a mature and responsible trade union leadership and suggested that this has contributed to a stable, mature and balanced society.

He contended that there would always be battles to fight for labour, especially since workers wanted to enjoy more fully the social amenities that result from their own productive efforts. He added, therefore, that organisations representing them would make demands on their behalf.

???It behooves those persons, whether employers in the private sector or whether the government as employer, to receive those proposals and recommendations with maturity and to initiate a constructive and transparent exchange with the trade union movement so that any decisions arrived at reflect both the interest of workers and the interest of employers, and when that is achieved, of course the overall national interest is protected,??? the Prime Minister stated.

During the celebrations, Mr. Stuart congratulated the workers of Barbados for the substantial contribution they had made to the development, political stability and modernisation of this country.

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