THE DEMOCRATIC LABOUR PARTY (DLP) had a miserable 14-year sojourn in opposition.
It was a fractious party until their thirst for power galvanised them into a united force that was ready and willing and to take control of the Government. They not only stopped fighting in public; they came up with a strategy which now appears to have been “tell the people what they want to hear”.
That strategy worked well, maybe too well, and now in power the DLP has been applying that winning formula to all aspects of their operations in Government. I would not blame them if they were still trying to win an imminent election but they are behaving as though the country is in a perpetual election mode.
They consistently refuse to come clean with the people of this country.
People would remember the most popular misrepresentations: university education would remain free; and that not one civil servant would be sent home.
University students are paying tuition fees and 6 000 workers were sent home since the last general election. Even now Government is only officially admitting sending home 3 000.
After winning the election, the DLP administration failed to deliver on their promises. Instead, blaming the state of the world economy, they unleashed punishing austerity measures.
All the while they were explaining that the measures were for the greater good and that a little short-term pain now would redound to overall prosperity. Seven years of austerity is a little long to be considered short-term. And it is too long for Government to delay implementation of the promises in its two manifestos so far.
I have no doubt that when challenged on the reasons for not honouring the promises in their manifesto that Government would continue to cite the the lack of resources occasioned by the state of the world economy as the main reason.
While not holding myself out as an economist, I believe that the economy is not growing because Government has taken out too much of people’s spending power in taxes, so what little is left is not enough to rekindle the economy.
That is debatable but what is not in dispute is that the DLP administration has failed to implement aspects of its manifesto that would not cost money to put in place. They include freedom of information and integrity legislation.
They were supposed to be part of the programme for the new government’s first 100 days in office.
Well into its second term, the DLP has very little, if anything, to boast about.
The average Barbadian is worse off now than when they took office in 2008. But the current administration has become adept at putting a good face on even its most atrocious acts.
By way of example, Government patted itself on the back for the passage of the new Shops Act. So much so, the Ministry of Labour published a release citing 17 positive highlights of the new act. The problem is that none of these positives is new. All 17 were already the law of the land.
The only thing worthy of note in the “new act” is that Government has reduced the chances of shop assistants getting overtime pay.
They have now set their sights on the Holidays With Pay Act. A bill is presently before the House of Assembly where the Government proposes to repeal the current act and replace it with one that is essentially the same thing with minor amendments. I would expect them to be consistent and big up themselves for the good piece of legislation.
I might be wrong but I can see two sinister motives in repealing and replacing progressive labour legislation, with only minor amendments. Firstly, the additions to the legislation are not worker-friendly, and by putting a so-called new act on the books, they would be removing any association the Rt. Excellent Grantley Adams had in bringing those progressive pieces of legislation.
The Government has nothing new to offer but to make themselves look good. They are attempting to erase Adams’ legacy, and with their spin doctors they will reap the praise and probably another term in office.
I wish you all a merry Christmas and blessed New Year.
Caswell Franklyn is the general secretary of Unity Workers’ Union and a social commentator. Email firstname.lastname@example.org