Barbados Labour Minister believes salary cuts should also come at the top

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(Barbados Today) – The Cabinet Minister who oversees industrial relations matters in this country is suggesting pay cuts for managers who require their workers to take a reduction in salaries.

Colin Jordan, the Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations said today the burden must be shared proportionately as the country tries to navigate the current economic and social difficulties.

“My position is, you cannot ask your line people to take a pay cut, if you in management are not prepared to take a pay cut,” Minister Jordan told Barbados TODAY.

“So when I talk about equity in sharing the burden, it has to be across-the-board,” he added.

“When we are talking now about burden, we are talking about a couple of things… We are talking about people and wages. We are also talking about commercial banks; we are asking them to give people an ease on their mortgages and loans and on the interest payments. That means they are taking some of the weight as well,” the Minister said.

He conceded that the employees may have to bear some weight as well.

“The workers, if they are asked to bear weight, then that weight-bearing has to be across-the-board. In my view, if it is to be equitable, it has to be across-the-board,” Jordan emphasized.

However, when asked if he supported wage cuts in any circumstance he told Barbados TODAY it would not be proper for him to publicly declare a position on that, bearing in mind that a related matter was now before the Labour Department for adjudication.

He was referring to a case in which the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) has taken the construction firm Preconco before the department claiming the workers’ salaries were cut.

“There is a matter before the Labour Department. To respond to you might come over as prejudicing what my ministry is doing. I don’t think it would be right for me to do that,” Minister Jordan pointed out.

“I don’t want to prejudice any conciliation efforts…any discussion,” he added.

Jordan also had a message for employers and employees in order to achieve win-win situations, especially when times are challenging.

“I recognize that the big issue in most industrial relations issues is dialogue. People are not sitting down and talking…not talking through…thrashing out…coming to an agreement. I think that needs to happen,” suggested the Minister who has a background in human resources.

“The second thing I would say is that the laws that are on the books are still on the books. The state of public health emergency has not removed any laws from the books. So nobody should get it in their minds, whether a worker or employer that any of the laws on the books have disappeared because we are in this extraordinarily difficult situation,” he cautioned.

He also suggested that everybody has to recognize that the country is in an extraordinarily difficult situation.

“And so, as we dialogue, that has to be up front and centre. So people have to be respected and everybody has to understand that these are unusual times,” he stated.

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