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Govern Ment of Barbados Ministry of Labour


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The unemployment rate for the year 2012 was 11.6%, a 0.4 percentage point increase over the 11.2% rate recorded in 2011.


SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP
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BACKGROUND

 

Consultation through bipartite and tripartite social dialogue has its origins prior to the signing of the tripartite protocols in the 1990s.  During the economic crisis in the early 1990s, Government in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), implemented a number of structural adjustment programmes.

 

However, the Barbadian public rejected some of the proposed measures. It was felt that they did not adequately take into account the negative social consequences for the population nor did they equitably distribute the burden of the adjustment measures.  The tensions generated by the structural adjustment measures imposed by the IMF and World Bank were unparalleled.  Although the trade union movement served as the nucleus of the general protests which arose, employers' organizations and civil society also took part.

 

As a result of the widespread protest, social dialogue became a strategic mechanism for ensuring nation-wide problem solving mechanism and it reduced industrial unrest in the country. Bridges of trust were eventually built which created a cordial environment for consultation and engagement by the parties.  This led to the creation of the first Protocol, with a view to implement measures for the sustained economic development of Barbados.

 

Three distinctive groups, Government, Employers representatives and Trade Union representatives agreed in 1993 to the establishment of a Prices and Incomes Protocol and this led to the birth of the Social Partners.

 

In that time, the country experienced rapidly declining foreign exchange reserves, a worsening balance of payments position, dramatic rises in unemployment and a high fiscal deficit. As a response to the crisis, it was decided that a joint collaborative approach was crucial, consisting of representation from Government, the Trade Union Movement and the Private Sector. Though the crisis affecting the country in the early 1990s was overcome, this tripartite structure has remained in effect to this date. All parties still endeavour to formulate a united response to the country's economic and social challenges.

 

 

THE SUBCOMMITTEE OF THE SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP

 

Currently, meetings of the full Social Partnership are held under the Chairmanship of the Prime Minister.  The Sub-Committee, however, comprises three Ministers of Government, one of whom shall be the Chairman, the Head of the Civil Service, the Director of Finance and Economic Affairs, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of the Civil Service, the Chief Personnel Officer, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, the Permanent Secretary in the  Prime Minister’s Office, the Chief Labour Officer and an equal number of representatives of the Employers and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados

 

 

The Sub-Committee meets at least once a month.  Its role is as follows:

  • Consultation on a range of matters drawn to the attention of the Sub-Committee of the Social Partners.
  • Monitoring the prices of goods and services and compensation.
  • Intervening in employment relation matters without trespassing on the traditional conciliation within the voluntary industrial relations system.
  • Monitoring the movement within the Retail Price Index.
  • Referring to the full Social Partnership, matters which might strengthen the Social Partnership, assist in national development and advance the social and economic progress of the country.

 

 

The Sub-Committee meets at least once a month.  Its role is as follows:

  • Consultation on a range of matters drawn to the attention of the Sub-Committee of the Social Partners.
  • Monitoring the prices of goods and services and compensation.
  • Intervening in employment relation matters without trespassing on the traditional conciliation within the voluntary industrial relations system.
  • Monitoring the movement within the Retail Price Index.
  • Referring to the full Social Partnership, matters which might strengthen the Social Partnership, assist in national development and advance the social and economic progress of the country.

 

 

 

PROTOCOLS OF THE SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP

 

 

PROTOCOL I (1993-1995)

Protocol for the Implementation of a Prices and Incomes Policy (FULL VERSION)

 

The Social Partnership first formalised their relationship in 1993 by signing an agreement  - Protocol for the Implementation of a Prices and Income Policy 1993-1995.  This Protocol was designed mainly as a package of measures to reverse the gradual erosion of the country's competitiveness by addressing specific economic problems and their social consequences.  This policy contained:

  • a commitment to maintain an exchange rate of BDS$2 to US$1;
  • a commitment to the expansion of the economy through competiveness;
  • a commitment to the promotion of access to employment; and
  • a commitment to a reduction in the incidence of social dislocation caused by high unemployment.

 

These were the main inducements for developing today's Social Partnership in Barbados.  The protocol committed the partners to improved productivity and increased efficiency, thereby reducing wastage and enhancing national performance so as to attract investment and create employment opportunities.  The achievement of these objectives was based on the mutual commitment of the parties to clearly defined initiatives, including the establishment of a framework for workers' security of employment and a reduction in labour disputes.

 

Of note was the fact that Parties agreed to a wage freeze in both the public and private sectors at all levels and Business undertook not to increase prices except where an increase became inevitable as a result of imported inflation.  At the same time, the agreement prescribed that "monopoly pricing" would be reviewed by a tripartite monitoring committee to facilitate legitimate cost increases.  On the other hand, the parties agreed to examine the indexing of wage adjustments and tax allowances to increases in the costs of living.  It obligated the Government to establish a tax regime which supported the objectives set out in the protocol.

 

 

PROTOCOL II (1995-1997)

Protocol for the Implementation of a Prices and Income Policy 1995-1997 (FULL VERSION)

 

Protocol Two incorporated the broad objective of promoting economic stability outlined in the first agreement, but had moved from a policy of "wage freeze" to a policy of "wage restraint", in order to make Barbados' goods and services more competitive.  A strong emphasis was placed on productivity through the introduction of a system of performance-related pay in the country, emphasizing the role of job evaluation and negotiated job enhancement exercises.  This second protocol further consolidated the critical role of collective bargaining, labour management, cooperation and other forms of tripartite social dialogue in the workplace.

 

 

PROTOCOL III (1998-2000)

Protocol for the Implementation of a Social Partnership. (FULL VERSION)

 

The third agreement moved beyond narrow economic concerns to address the new issues associated with globalization.  It took the view that there was a need for the partners to make a deliberate effort to institutionalise the Social Partnership in the belief that this was in the long term interests of the economy.   Consistent with this view, the parties emphasized the continuing need to sub-ordinate sectoral interests to the national interest and to continue to use the Social Partnership to sustain economic growth and stability.  To achieve long term sustainable growth, the agreement identified eight policy objectives, three of which were additions to the objectives set out in earlier agreements.  The new policy objectives included:

  • The maintenance of a stable industrial relations climate
  • The reduction of social disparities through increased employment; and
  • The consolidation of social dialogue through tripartite consultation

This set of objectives was described as a "social compact", undoubtedly to emphasise the broad scope of the agreement but also to emphasise the social partnership as an all-inclusive one in which all segments of society were to be taken into account in policy formulation and implementation.

 

 

PROTOCOL IV (2001-2004)

Protocol IV of the Social Partnership (FULL VERSION)

 

Protocol IV was implemented for the period 2001-2004.  The intent of this document was to create a modern efficient economy, able to achieve sustainable economic growth.  It sought to facilitate increased employment and to establish equilibrium between prices and incomes. It further sought to create a society which enjoyed a greater degree of inclusiveness in all facets; and to distribute equitably the benefits of economic growth.

 

 

PROTOCOL V (2005-2007)

Protocol V of the Social Partnership (FULL VERSION)

 

The timeframe identified for this protocol was initially scheduled to be between 2005 and 2007. In comparison to the preceding instrument, this document sought to expand in more detail, critical issues such as:

  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Issues affecting the disabled Community
  • Environmental matters and
  • Disaster Preparedness

The major objectives of Protocol V included:

  • further positioning the Barbados economy through the protection, consolidation and advancements of Barbados' economic interests in the regional, hemispheric and global economic environment
  • reducing social disparities through those protections which are inherent in an acknowledgement of the right to decent work
  • fostering national commitment to increased competitiveness through improved productivity and efficiency in the workplace.

Some of the prominent developments highlighted in this protocol were (i) the signing of the National Initiative for Service Excellence (NISE) which was launched on November 30th, 2004, (ii) the commitment of the partners to support the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. Another prominent feature was the recommendation for the creation of a Secretariat for the Social Partners.

 

Protocol V was extended but expired in 2010.

 

 

PROTOCOL VI (2011-2013)

Protocol VI of the Social Partnership (FULL VERSION)

 

On May 2nd, 2011, the Social Partnership signed its sixth protocol at the Barbados Worker’s Union May Day Celebrations. It was agreed that Protocol V was still relevant and therefore should not be totally discarded. Therefore Protocol VI was built on the foundation of Protocol V with amendments made in cases where recommendations had been implemented, events were overtaken by time or where relevance to current events was an issue.

 

However, Protocol VI paid special attention to the following issues which are particularly relevant to the social and economic development of the country at this time:

  • Barbados’ successful emergence from the current economic crisis and the desire to become “The Number One Entrepreneurial Hub in the World” by attracting investment in diversified sectors and the development of new skills
  • Human development and the management of health issues, especially chronic diseases, recognising the link between good health and human and economic development.
  • Environmental protection and the Green Economy by strengthening the clauses in the section on the environment already subscribed to in Protocol Five and fully supporting initiatives which seek to reduce our carbon footprint.
  • The development of a knowledge driven economy to encourage a culture of information sharing within and across all sectors.

 Protocol VI is expected to expire in 2013.

 

 

 




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3rd Floor West, Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados | Tel: (246) 535-1400 | Fax: (246) 425-0266 | E-Mail: mol@labour.gov.bb