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Incomes Protocol 'Hurting Workers'

Daily Nation, Monday 29 May 2000

A TRADE unionist and executive member of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) said the Prices and Incomes Protocol seemed not to be functioning in the interest of the workers.

The criticism of the tripartite agreement between labour unions, Government and the private sector came from DLP vice-president Undine Whittaker at the party's all-day review yesterday at its George Street headquarters.

She said the three parties signed the agreement for the national good and all three parties should benefit.

To cheers from scores of party supporters, Whittaker, who is also president of the Barbados Union of Teachers, said the question which needed to be answered was:"Are the workers benefiting?"

She said that during two major industrial disputes recently involving hotel workers and later sugar industry workers, the Government took an anti-worker stance.

"As soon as the workers seek to assert their rights that is the position taken by the Government,"she said.

Whittaker said it was clear that two partners in the protocol, the third of which was signed on May Day this year, were"benefiting but the workers who turn the wheels of industry are not?.

Her stand was supported by industrial relations practitioner Carol Jordan, who said that given the large number of national industrial disputes last year, the partners in the protocol should seek to determine whether workers saw themselves as benefiting from it.

She said last year saw major industrial upheaval at the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation, Advocate Company Ltd; General Post Office, the Royal Barbados Police Force and among nurses.

Jordan argued that the issues about which workers agitated were covered within the protocol and therefore the partners should ask themselves why it was necessary for them to go to such extremes.

She said what was lacking was a level of communication, especially within the private sector, which would filter down to members.

"If communication obtains in the way that we expect it to, the matters that arise in individual companies need not be contentious,"Jordan said.