We could not be where we are today without you, Prime Minister Mia Mottley told workers in her May Day address on Sunday.
But moving forward, if Barbados wants to meet its target of becoming a world class nation by 2030, there has to be a renewed commitment by workers, to be better, faster and innovative.
“The truth is, we have done so much, but I will tell you, there is still so much more to do. Going forward, if we want to maintain and even improve the standard of living to which we have become accustomed, and to secure a worthwhile legacy for our children, business as usual cannot, cannot be our approach,” she emphasised.
“We have to be better. We have to be faster. We have to be more nimble. Our approaches have to be grounded in creativity as much as science. In one word, we have to be different, and we have to innovate.”
The Prime Minister said the last two years – marred by the COVID-19 pandemic – have been very challenging, but they are also presenting new opportunities.
“They bring with them the potential to improve our lives and to transform our landscape by phenomenal measure, but we cannot do it – and you are going to hear me say so over and over – we cannot do it without you, the workers of Barbados,” Mottley said.
“We cannot become world class by 2030 unless each and every one of you wants to help in this mission. And I would ask you over and over to commit yourselves to this . . . to commit yourself to transforming this nation, because we know that would be the surest way to lay the platform for your safety, for your security, for your prosperity and for this country’s overall prosperity.”
The Prime Minister said they would not be appealing the decision of the courts to grant prison officers the right to associate and also said Emera and the Barbados Workers; Union would soon be signing a new agreement.
Mottley said one of the reasons people voted so overwhelmingly for her administration was its commitment to workers as shown over the years. She itemised some of the measures put in place to benefit workers, most done while under an International Monetary Fund programme:
Increase in public sector wages by 5%.The first increase in nine years.
Thousands of public sector workers appointed. An appeal process put in place for others to get redress.
Creation of Customs Officer 4 which resulted in more than 130 appointments.
A national minimum wage of $8.50 per hour.
A sectoral minimum wage of $9.25 per hour for security guards.
The approval of more than 4 000 trust loans.
New Business Interruption benefit through the NIS.
Millions in benefits to 31 000 workers through the NIS.
The BEST programme which saved jobs in tourism.
The HOPE project which will provide housing solutions to those who did not think they could afford a home.
A National Transformation Initiative which led to 24 000 being trained through Coursera and 15 000 trained in the Citizenship module.
Over $1 billion paid in back taxes.
Flexible work hours in the public service.
Abolished the NSRL
Broadened the net for those eligible for reverse tax credits.
The introduction of electric buses.
Digitising of many public services including the office of the Police Certificate of Character.
Protection for gas station workers.
Health scheme for the Sanitation Service Authority and mechanical lifters on the back of trucks.
The Government is working on solving the problem of late payment to temporary employees.
Government passed the Employment Prevention of Discrimination Act.
Approval of a paternity policy which is before the auditors for feasibility.