“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” – Isaiah 9:6

The Commonwealth Partnership for Technology Management ( promotes the philosophy of Smart Partnership from its CPTM Smart Partners’ Hub in London. Dr. Mihaela Smith, CPTM’s CEO, has just published some end of year “Reading Hints” for Smart Partners. Included are (1) Tun Dr Mahathir’s, CPTM Companion and Fellow Emeritus, opinion that “Vision 2020 may be in peril” and (2) Lennox Lewis (a Trinidadian – e-mail: who has brought to our attention his government’s preoccupation with “Vision 2020: Pathway to the new Trinidad and Tobago” (

The umbrella theme for the “Mulungushi” Smart Partnership Dialogue in Zambia 2008, “Transforming communities through realising national visions” will continue to be the Smart Partnership Movement’s main focus and preoccupation in 2009 especially at the August 2009 East African International Dialogue in Uganda, where it is expected that the Caribbean will have more than a token representation.

In the context of the Smart Partnership philosophy, I have been pointing out since my involvement as a Smart Partner in 1995 that, just as the family is central to the establishment of a successful community, a social compact, as is practised in Barbados, is essential to the governance of a sovereign state. The social partnership in Barbados, although a case has been made to extend it to include a wider range of social partners, has evolved around the government, the private sector and the trade unions. I have advocated that the role of the private sector is “To do business”; the role of the public sector is “To provide regulatory and support services to assist the private sector”; and the role of the trade unions is “To induce harmony between employer and employee to increase productivity for fair compensation”.

Last Thursday, I was on my way to the airport to pick up my son Kevin and his family, who are with us from Dubai to spend the Christmas holidays. I was tuned into CBC Q-FM radio and listened to the programme “The Public Worker” which I subsequently learned is broadcast every third Thursday of each month. I was most gratified to hear the leader of the National Union of Public Workers, who was being interviewed, say that, given the current economic crisis, the primary focus of the union is to increase productivity for fair compensation and to support the introduction of performance based payment schemes.

I should interject here that the definition of personal productivity is the value of the output of an individual per unit of the individual’s time. It should be noted that personal productivity can be enhanced by the individual’s personal technical development, the technology that the individual employs, the individual’s attitude to the job and the processes which the individual uses. Indeed, as the representative of the employee, it is incumbent on the union to design programmes to increase the individual’s productivity. This seems to me to be a missed business opportunity for a partnership between the union and the employer. For those who would respond to me that the unions and employers do have this partnership in place and it is working well, my counter response would be why then have I been advised by the National Productivity Council that there is a downward trend in productivity in Barbados?

It may be that it has been said , and I have not paid attention, but this is the first time that I have been privileged to listen to a union member speak publicly in such forthright terms about productivity. It is more usual for me to take notice of union leaders expounding on “job retention”, “supersession” and “pay increases”. Why has it taken the union so long to place primary emphasis on productivity? Is it because this is perceived to be a time of crisis which may result in job losses and union stress?

One sure way of enhancing the probability of an individual retaining a job is to enhance productivity. The collective impact of several individuals increasing productivity will go a long way towards increasing competitiveness and economic growth for the country. One sure way of determining whether supersession is justified is to use a productivity indicator. Surely it cannot be fair to keep an individual in a position, either in the public or private sector, just because of his/her length of tenure and irrespective of his/her productivity. One sure way of increasing the net take home pay of an individual is to sign onto a performance based compensation scheme and extract maximum benefits from it by enhancing productivity.

In contrast, on the CBC TV news last Friday night, I heard a local business man say that as long as we keep focusing on productivity and efficiency there will be no need to lay off staff in his company. His company has never released staff before and he sees no reason to hastily lay off staff now.

As we celebrate another Christmas season, amidst the man-made turmoil of climate, food and financial crises, let us remember that, as in the respite that has been given regarding the energy crisis, the government shall be upon His shoulder, the one called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business
Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – Columns are archived at

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