The Broad Street Journal • Friday, September 10, 2010 • Page 1
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Barbados’ Independent Business Voice • Established 1993
Friday, September 10, 2010 • Vol. X No. 7
Justice Delayed Former LOB employees won their day in court, but getting a tribunal to determine their payout amount is another matter.
Sagicor’s Patrick Hill
ive months have passed since the closing of the Severance Payments Tribunal’s hearing into what financial settlement may be due to two dozen former Life of Barbados insurance agents and still no judgement has been delivered. After a ruling by then Chief Justice Sir David Simmons in their favour over two years ago, in what some people believe to be a landmark case in the difference between contracts “of” and Continued on page 2
Sir Roy: Employment Rights Bill ‘Cements’ Good Labour-Management Practices
BY PATRICK HOYOS
CTUSAB President Sir Roy Trotman
he new Employment Rights Bill, one of several pieces of legislation nearing passage under the Thompson Administration’s ‘Decent Work Country Programme’, seeks only to “cement” into law what has been one of the cornerstones of labour-management relations for years and which has been called for by the courts for a similar period, says Sir Roy Trotman. Sir Roy, who is general secretary of the Barbados Work-
who’s Who in Barbados Business
ers Union and the head of the Coalition of Trades Union and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) and thus represents labour’s interest in the Social Partnership, told The Broad Street Journal recently that employers should not fear the coming passage of this particular bill into law but embrace it because it would cause them to maintain disciplinary records that would document an employee’s path to possible termination. But it in no way removes the employer’s right Continued on page 4
The crucial factor
After 17 years as a musician, MC and announcer, Phil Archer found his true calling on the other side of the mic. - Page 6
The Frugal American, a Reason for Worry
U.S. arrivals are up, but a drop in individual American family spending worries tourism officials-p.3
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NEWS & ANALYSIS JUSTICE DELAYED from page 1 “for” services, it was left to the tribunal to determine what payments, severance or otherwise, were due to the employees. The employees were hired by Sagicor Life Insurance when it acquired Life of Barbados in 2003, but the company took the position that they were independent contractors and thus not eligible for redundancy payments before being rehired by their new employer. Sir David, in a lengthy judgement of over 60 pages, stated that “The issue for determination raises the perennial question: Are the workers engaged under a contract of service, or under a contract for services?” At the end of a ruling which ran for over 60 pages, Sir David found for the defendants, stating that “The picture which emerged are that the defendants are professional persons engaged by Sagicor to sell its products. None of the defendants was free to set his/her own standards of performance.” The former Chief Justice also noted that “A contract of service may exist even though control does not extend to prescribing how work must be done....The defendants are employed as part of Sagicor’s business....They are not in business on their own as entrepreneurs.” He concluded: “I hold that each of these defendants and the other workers whom they represent in the various categories in the first paragraph of this judgment are and/or were engaged by the plaintiff under contracts of service.” However, justice delayed brings cold comfort to the former LOB employees, most of whom still now work for Sagicor. The Severance Payments Tribunal which heard the case was supposed to start its work
The Broad Street Journal • Friday, September 10, 2010 • Page 2 last July, but after several delays the first time it met was in mid-January this year. Cancelled sessions and late starts caused the matter to drag on to the last week of March. At that final session, according to an informed source, Tribunal Chairman Elson Gaskin informed informed both parties’ lawyers that he would want their written submissions by the 7th April, which was done. The goal, he said was to enable the tribunal to deliver its ruling by the ending of April.
Mr. Hill told the Journal: “From what was told to us by the chairman at the last sitting we were sure we would have had a judgment by the end of April. We feel wwfrustrated.”
ut since then nothing has happened. The Journal understands that the chairman may have been faced with a technical problem, in that his chairmanship expired on April 2, and he would have to be re-sworn in order to complete his work on the case. The Journal asked Patrick Hill, one of the lead defendants in the case, about its status.
He said that the defendants’ lawyer, Clement Lashley QC, wrote a letter on June 1 to Nicholas Reid, secretary of the Severance Payments Tribunal, asking for a reason for the delay in the ruling. Receiving no reply, Mr. Lashley followed up with a second letter to Mr. Reid dated 19 July, saying he had received no acknowledgement of his letter to and stating, “I therefore write to enquire when the judgement of this tribunal will be delivered.” On August 4, Mr. Lashley sent a letter outlining his concerns once more, this time to the Director of National Insurance. There has been no reply to date, the Journal understands. Mr. Reid replied, saying that he had noted the contents of the correspondence and adding that “efforts have been made to have Mr. Elson Gaskin appointed as chairman so that these matters can be brought to a closure.” The other two tribunal members who heard the case were Tony Walcott, who is currently the executive director of the Barbados Employers’ Confederation and Toby Alleyne, a retired trade unionist.
Mr. Hill told the Journal: “From what was told to us by the chairman at the last sitting we were sure we would have had a judgment by the end of April, but we feel frustrated. He gave us the assurance that this would have been done, but he has not spoken to any of us or our attorney, not even since the Aug. 4 letter which was written to the Director of National Insurance.” Mr. Hill, who continues to work for Sagicor, added: “The tribunal was not only supposed to speed
up the system but it was to be a deciding factor as to where we would be going as agents in terms of a financial settlement. This has been going on since 2003, if you include the original case ruled on by Sir David, which was accepted by the company but never acted on in terms of payment.” • To read the BSJ”s report on Sir David’s findings, please go to our website and download the Jan. 25 issue.
NEWS & ANALYSIS
The Broad Street Journal • Friday, September 10, 2010 • Page 3
Americans are shopping around for bargains in a more aggressive manner than before, writes Tony Best.
e want to see the spending levels improve.” Richard Sealy, Barbados’ Minister of Tourism, had the British traveler, the “bread and butter” of the nation’s tourism industry, in mind when he spoke recently in New York. Now, he may have to add the American tourists to the list of the frugal visitor who watches every penny with the eye of a hawk while keeping a tight hand on the pocketbook. And with the West Indian carnival in Brooklyn that attracted as many as two million souls to Eastern Parkway on Labor day heralding the official end of the 2010 lean summer season, Sealy, the Barbados Tourism Authority, restaurants and hotels may see a glimmer of hope in an evolving picture of limited growth in travel by Americans but worry about indications of a drop in individual family spending on vacations. For as Henry Harteveldt, a research analyst in the U.S., explained it, Americans might be planning to travel more this year than in 2009 but they are keeping “one hand firmly clasped to their wallet.” From all available evidence, the American travel market is beginning to stir from its slumber caused by the national and global financial debacle and the worst economic slump since the Great Depression. Now that the decline has ended with a measure of growth, albeit anemic and not the strong expansion everyone was hoping for, Caribbean destinations, Barbados included, can expect better days. For instance, the U.S. Travel Association, an industry organization, is projecting Americans may spend about US$30 billion more in 2010 than they did the year before. Admittedly, much of that would go to the domestic market and not simply foreign travel. The association has forecast that gross spending would rise to US$519.6 billion this year as compared with US$489 billion in 2009. The bounce is reflected in U.S. hotels’ revenues, which rose by $6 billion this
The Frugal American, a Reason for Worry in the Caribbean year, reaching $58 billion between January-July, up from $52 billion during the first seven months of last year. But before hoteliers in the Caribbean begin celebrating the prospects of an uptick in hotel occupancy, there are equally troubling signs on the horizon, according to analysts. Americans are shopping around for bargains in a more aggressive manner than before, especially those at hotels which give an extra night if guests pay for four or five. Other properties are luring people with a gift, such as a camera or a free meal, instead of discounting the room. In Las Vegas, where the convention and visitors’ bureau recently reported a 4 per cent jump in visitor arrivals in June, reaching 3.1 million, the hotel occupancy rate dropped by almost 3 per cent, largely because of the volume of new rooms which came onto the market.
nother indicator of a rebound was the five per cent increase this year in the per hotel room revenue following last year’s 16 per cent drop. On the other side of the ledger, hotel executives say where a free buffet breakfast is part of the package, guests are consuming gargantuan portions so as to avoid buying lunch. And when they do eat, it can be a fast food meal instead of more exotic dishes. Just as important, Americans are taking shorter vacations, say three nights instead of the usual five. As if that wasn’t bad enough, some bread and breakfast operators who set aside free alcohol for their guests are noticing
that bottles are emptying faster, according to a report in The New York Times. The cruise lines too are seeing the mixed picture. They have recorded a surge in bookings for the second half of the year but the Cruise Lines International Association said the increase came after the introduction of special fares and discounts. Like hotels, cruie lines are operating on the theory that it is better to have a passenger in a cabin spending less than to have an empty room. Compared with the “Brits” and the Europeans, Americans don’t take advantage of their vacation time away from the office, plant or the field. While the average person in France takes about 38 vacation days annually and Britons about 26, Americans take 13 days. The problem is they are not using all of the allotted time, so much so that it was estimated they gave back 436 million vacation days in a year. Here’s a contributing factor: Many Americans worry that in their absence, a colleague may try to unseat them and in the current economic climate, they may not have a job to which they can return. That brings us back to the Minister. Mr. Sealy wants to diversify the sources of American travelers to Barbados by attracting visitors from other regions, say the west and southwest. “One of the things that always concerned me is the heavy reliance on business from the northeast,” he said in June. “Over 70 per cent of our business in the U.S. have traditionally originated in the northeast and a little bit further down as well. We have to change that.” Hence the efforts to get a scheduled service out of Texas, possibly, Dallas beginning in late December. •
NEWS & ANALYSIS SIR ROY from page 1 to hire and fire. The “Decent Work Country Programme,” as outlined by Minister of Labour Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo at the BWU’s annual conference held late last month, is a package of amendments updating current employment-related laws. Besides the Employment Rights Bill, they are the Holidays with Pay (Amendment) Act, the Amendment to the Shops Act, and the Safety and Health at Work Regulations. According to the BGIS, the minister said that he explained that the Holidays with Pay Act would clarify “the process for calculating average pay and an amended definition of total remuneration to prevent those workers being employed and paid only on a commission basis from being disadvantaged. In addition, the proposed amendment will ensure that a worker is paid for the extra day granted when a public holiday falls within his vacation.” As for the Amendment to the Shops Act, the Minister noted that it would remove the current restriction of opening hours for those operations classified as shops, but also require adequate rest breaks and transportation arrangements which take into consideration the needs of the workers. Meanwhile, Dr. Byer Suckoo added, the Employment Rights Bill would give an em-
The Broad Street Journal • Friday, September 10, 2010 • Page 4
Sir Roy told the Journal, however, that, despite setting down a minimum amount of notice of termination, the new law would throw out an archaic one on the books which still allows employers to terminate without reason. ployee the right to a statutory minimum amount of notice of termination, as well as enable the establishment of an Employment Rights Tribunal. Sir Roy told the Journal, however, that, despite setting down a minimum amount of notice of termination, the new law would throw out an archaic one on the books which still allows employers to terminate without reason. Under the current law, he noted, “if an employer decides he no longer wishes to retain you, then (he) just terminates you, provided that he gives you adequate notice, and doesn’t fire you during the time that you are on holiday.”
ir Roy said that companies which do give employees warning letters and attempt to discipline them in a fair manner “would have nothing to worry about,” he said. Both the employer and any union that might be representing him had a responsibility “to make that worker a better worker by training and guidance,” he added. “And
where that worker is helped by the employer and that help is not being inculcated, then you would expect that the employer will be having records and that there will be warnings. But there will still be cases where, because the worker has done such violence to the working relationship by a particular incident that he doesn’t have to have previous warnings.” Reiterating that the bill “does not say at any point that a worker cannot be fired,” Sir Roy noted that “It merely en-
deavours to do what the law courts, starting with Sir William Douglas, have been saying to people for the last 25 to 30 years -- that is, that you should not be able to dismiss a person purely by giving them four weeks’ or two months’ notice, (but) that there should be a cause for the termination. But nobody should believe that that individual has the right to the job even when the person surrenders it by behaviour or attitudes that are not supportive of the business or the way the business functions.” He concluded: “So really the Employment Rights Bill cements and underscores what has been the practice in labour management rela tions” for decades, by removing a legal loophole provided by an archaic piece of legislation.
The Broad Street Journal • Friday, September 10, 2010 • Page 5
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The September Page6 6 TheBroad BroadStreet StreetJournal Journal• Friday, • Tuesday, September10, 7, 2010 2010 ••Page
Photo © 2010 The Broad Street Journal
hen you turn on your favourite radio station or TV channel, chances are that if there’s an ad playing you’ll mute it, skip to the next channel in line, or at the very least, grumble about all the ads that take up time away from your entertainment. Perhaps you don’t realize that those annoying advertisements are what pay the radio or TV station’s bills, as well as those of the people who made them. “Media production is a multi-billion dollar industry globally and integral to the success of EVERY business, which relies on it to stay in touch with their customers and [therefore] remain publicly competitive,” says Phil Archer, Managing Director & CEO of Crucial Productions Inc, located at #12 Webster Industrial Park in Wildey. Continued on next page
the crucial factor young
professionals By Amanda Cummins
The Broad Street Journal • Tuesday, September 7, 2010 • Page 6
CEO of Crucial Productions’ Phil Archer in a 2004 portrait
The Broad Street Journal • Friday, September 10, 2010 • Page 7
Inside Crucial Productions’ studios. PHIL ARCHER from previous page
Crucial Productions is a full service media production facility, specializing in audio and video production and digital media. “We produce everything from radio advertisements and television commercials, to 3D animation and website design and programming,” notes Phil. Every step of the production process, including talent casting, script writing, custom music composition, recording and finalization is personally monitored by Phil himself. In 2001 a large local corporation which at one time hired out for all marketing, advertising and production decided to internalize these services, causing many job losses. Phil even recalls one large agency that closed its doors as a result. He was one of the unlucky ones who was made redundant by the production company he worked for. “Rather than seek out another 9-5 job that had no real upward mobility, I decided to break out and do my own thing. It was the best decision I could have made,” he told The Journal. On top of 17 years in the field as a musician, radio announcer and MC among other things, Phil received an Associate of Science degree in Recording Engineering from Full Sail University in Florida. But besides his academic qualifications, Phil says that his experience as an entertainer has given him “an invaluable understanding of local culture that goes beyond the kind of education you receive in a classroom. I witnessed firsthand what succeeds in the market - what the Barbadian public identifies with.” Phil began playing guitar and singing in bars for extra money. The next logical step seemed to be to study the technical aspects of the music business, and after his three-year stint at the production company, he opened Crucial with his mind on becoming a recording and production studio for musicians. However, he says, “I realized that I enjoyed and was better suited for advertising production and decided to focus my business exclusively on that. From there, years later, the natural progression was to expand from only doing radio production into television, video [et al]”. Phil believes this move into exclusively working in media is what has given him the edge, allowing him to stay up-to-date with his clients and with techniques, technologies and trends to keep his business current and therefore efficient. “Whether you’re listening to the radio, watching TV, or surfing the Internet in Barbados, you’re likely to come across the work of Crucial on any given day,” Phil says. Clients include
Gtech, SOJE Lonsdale, Red Advertising, Virgo Communications, GHA, SFA Communications, Blueprint Creative and Barbados/ Caribbean Super Lotto, as well as Producers’ Choice out of Toronto. Crucial also does charity work for people or companies that are deemed deserving, recording their ads for free, such as the Ship Inn Fun Run for the last four years, and the Future Centre Trust.
rucial is also able to stay in touch through social networking sites and media channels such as Facebook and LinkedIn, where Phil can get feedback and constructive criticism on photos and other media work by Crucial from average consumers. Although he has had very positive feedback for the most part, as well as gaining several local, regional and even international awards, especially for a series of ads done for McDonald’s in the United States Virgin Islands through an agency called MLB Creative, he cites a major challenge as being the fact that “the (local) general public’s perception of the media production industry is that what we do is more of a “hobby” or “side job” and not necessarily a serious sustainable career. This has implications socially as well as in business, such as interaction with financial institutions, who generally don’t completely understand what we do, and don’t feel that they can put a lot of weight in the field in general, which can hinder growth and development of a small business.” Aside from perhaps working on his 1953 Jeep once in a while, or perhaps playing the part of MC, as at the recent Animekon 2010, Phil will usually be found in the studio. He says “The best part of what I do is the wide scope of creativity it allows me. From coming up with a melody for a radio jingle to conceptualizing a television commercial to establishing a creative format for a website, working with clients and offering my creativity to meet their needs is extremely rewarding.” Phil’s advice to anyone starting their own business is to love the field you enter, above all else. “Oh, and hire a good accountant!” •
news & analysis
The Broad Street Journal • Friday, September 10, 2010 • Page 8
Will it take a “Value Village” to raise our service standards? NISE hopes so. The National Initiative for Service Excellence launches its Shine Through campaign with animated characters espousing key behavioural values BY PATRICK HOYOS
ISE, the National Initiative for Service Excellence recently launched its “Live Excellence” campaign, and in the coming months, Barbadians will get to meet and follow the exploits of a mythical Bajan place called “Value Village,” in which residents learn the basic values we all would like to see flourishing in our society. The cast of characters include Polite Percy, a pig; Truthful Trudy, an honest monkey; Ignition Iggy, a visually-impaired dog; Reliable Rosie, a black belly sheep; and Big Heart Bradley, a compassionate bull. Speaking at the launch of the campaign at the organisation’s headquarters at Harbour Industrial Park just outside Bridgetown, NISE CEO Kim Tudor said the campaign would focus on values which Barbadians, through NISE’s own research, had said were the most important going forward: Courtesy, honesty, responsibility, compassion and creativity. “We conducted a survey to see how much Bajans are practicing these values,” Ms. Tudor told the media, in two sets of street interviews totalling around 800 people, roughly equally divided between men and women. The test was based on a similar one done previously by Reader’s Digest magazine to gauge how “polite” a country was, and Barbados scored 68 percent, tied with several other locations,
gress Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados; and Ben Arrindell, Chairman, Barbados Private Sector Association. In his remarks, Sir Roy said that while it might be that people who served customers “at the counter” felt that it was they who Ben Arindell: The countries should be thanked, which emerge from the global “they should recrisis “relatively intact” will ally be saying ‘Thank you for choosing be those “which have the us and allowing us foundation for building the to be here another day.’” He said more society up.” had to be done to including Zagreb in Croatia train people in what and the Polish capital Warsaw, was required to achieve serat fourth place. “We fell down vice excellence, and not “just on the service test, especially drop them into jobs.” in supermarkets and conveThe CTUSAB president renience stores,” she said, noting called that he has said previthat since those places did not ously that “a lot of people take depend on tourism as much as time of from work claiming to we did, “Should we be happy be ill when really it is their child with a 68 percent?” who is ill, “so we have to build She said that while on a culture where people can tell the positive side the survey the truth and not be punished showed that seven out ten for it.” He said the Barbados people helped older people Workers Union “will continue by opening doors for them, to argue that we should presa similar number said they ent ourselves for work punchad recently been at an event tually every day that you are which had been disrupted by paid. It is not that ‘I have been someone speaking on a mo- here six months and haven’t bile phone. had a sick day yet.’” The campaign will get into He said that sometimes high gear in October, which people were victimised if they has been designated “courtesy tried to discuss problems with month”. management, and that was where union representation ttending the was needed. “You should let launch event were your trade union work for you representatives of to try to get a fair day’s pay the Social Partner- for similar work,” he said. He ship, Senator Harry Husbands, thanked the creative people Parliamentary Secretary, Prime who had put together the Minister’s Office; Senator Sir campaign and hoped that Roy Trotman, President, Con- next time a survey was done,
the country would fare better, as “We still have along way to go.” Head of the Private Sector Agency Ben Arindell said all in the Social Partnership agreed that there was a “continuing erosion of social values.” It was also a concern shared by people of all age groups in all walks of life, he said. He added that the countries which emerged from the current global economic crisis with their economic and social fabric “relatively intact” will be those “which have the foundation for building the society up.” He pointed out that many young people said they did not see adults living up to the values they were asking the young people to espouse. “I have seen this myself,” he added, noting that there was no “magic bullet” for the success of an initiative like this one. “It needs perseverance.” Meanwhile, Senator Harry Husbands, who represents the government on the Social Partnership, said NISE’s initiatives had originally been geared to the workplace, but this was now expanding into “trying to influence what is going on in the wider society.” He said that while the results of the survey showed there were challenges ahead, he did not feel all was lost. There were more Barbadians coming back from representing their country at major international sporting events, “so a large section of our community is on the move, showing they have the discipline and vision to look ahead. Summer camps and youth forums were all playing their part, but they were “government solutions”, and the main influence on young people came from their family and homes, “so that is where the major responsibility lies.” He concluded: “I wish this programme success as it is a very important one.” •