Minister of State with responsibility for Labour, Senator Arni Walters has strongly refuted claims that the Social Partnership is not as “active and focused” as it should be, as Barbados prepares to face tough economic times. 

Senator Walters was speaking during a recent interview with the Barbados Government Information Service from the International Labour Organisation Tripartite Conference in Kingston, Jamaica, where he is presenting  a Paper on “Finding  Better Solutions: The Role of Social Dialogue”.

Responding to comments made by the President of the Economic Society and Chairman of the Productivity Council, Anthony Johnson, the Minister stressed that the Social Partnership and Sub-Committee “have been proactive in addressing social and economic issues related to the current global financial crisis.

“The Social Partners have been meeting at least once per month, since October last year, to discuss the issues associated with the financial meltdown and exploring a number of solutions to the challenges as they affect Barbados,” Senator Walters explained.

The Labour Minister also pointed out that the Social Partners, that is, Government, the Trade Unions and the Private Sector have developed a Short and Medium-term Action Plan for Barbados. More recently, he said the tripartite stakeholders had agreed on an Implementation Plan to effectively address the challenges, which were raised by the stakeholders and had agreed on a number of timelines for resolution of these issues.

Senator Walters, who is also Chairman of the Sub-Committee, revealed that the Social Partnership had also established a Council of Economic Advisors, headed by Professor Frank Alleyne, to review and implement the strategies to deal with the social and economic challenges facing Barbados.

“It will surely be a difficult period, but the parties in the social partnership, using the mechanism of social dialogue, have not been caught unaware by these issues raised by the current crisis. The tripartite parties have been submitting proposals and solutions as to how we can meet these challenges over the next year and beyond,” he said.

Senator Walters also paid tribute to the Social Partnership, which has been in existence since 1993 and is currently operating on its fifth protocol, which “has served Barbados well”. To this end, he said a number of countries, both regionally and internationally, “are seeking to adopt the partnership as a model for effective problem-solving in difficult times.”

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