The Grenada Employers Federation (GEF) has cited the need for businesses to focus more on increasing levels of productivity and competitiveness in order to survive in these trying economic times.
This was the plea made by Executive Director of GEF, Stacy Hastick while delivering a solidarity message to the workers on International Workers’ Day on May 1 at Fond playing field in St. Patrick.
In referring to the relevance of this year’s theme, “Safeguarding Workers Interest in a period of Economic Hardship and Structural Adjustment”, Hastick said that Grenada has been “slowly recovering (from the global recession) but unemployment, while it has decreased, is still significantly high at 30%.
She noted that private sector companies are restructuring, workers are being retrenched and employers are seeking new avenues to ensure the sustainability of their enterprises.
She also alluded to the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) initiated by the ruing New National Party (NNP) government of Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, which is into its final year.
The GEF Executive Director said the impact of the programme is felt by the business community and brings with it certain challenges.
“Employers are challenged to do more with less; they have to offer high quality products and services, leverage their resources and compete with regional and global markets which results in the cost of business being inescapably high”, she told workers.
Hastick used the opportunity to applaud trade unions for their steadfast efforts towards ensuring that worker rights are protected and that they are adequately compensated for their productivity in the workplace.
“In recent months, the voice of the trade union has been heard as they sought to safeguard the interests of their constituents…
“… The present economic situation in Grenada, the Caribbean and globally, is indeed a contributory factor to the issues affecting Labour-Management relations”, she said.
“In the face of these constraints, fueled by the economic hardships, businesses have no choice but to re-invent themselves and utilise cost cutting measures to maintain sustainability,” she added.
The GEF executive laid out a case for businesses to improve competitiveness, and productivity.
“…We must be mindful that we are connected in this global network; therefore, we must be proactive. I reiterate, we need to look at increasing our productivity and competitiveness”, she said.
“We cannot rely on interventions from Government or donors. Labour and Private Sector must work together to address the key issues confronting us. Undeniably, the resilience of the business community is threatened by internal and external threats”, she added.
According to Hastick there is need for Labour and Employers to become more innovative and to co-operate to improve the workplace dynamics, as well as, improve productivity levels.
“Trade Unions must be cognisant of the power they yield in shaping the organisational culture and assist employers in addressing issues that promote poor company culture. Inherently, there is a need for us to address issues of absenteeism; skills mix match, motivation, team-building and sustainability.
“In safeguarding the Workers’ interest, consideration must be given for the enterprise, the economy and the society; our relationship cannot be contentious; but one of mutual understanding and respect.”
“While we are dealing with economic hardship and reforms that have its implications on our society; we must see this as an opportunity to find solutions to the problems that affect us all. Let us work together for better businesses, better employees and a better economy.