Population: 273,000
Capital: Bridgetown

ILO Core Conventions Ratified:

29 (Forced Labour (1930))
87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise (1948))
98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining (1949))
100 (Equal Remuneration for Work of Equal Value (1951))
105 (Abolition of Forced Labour (1957))
111 (Discrimination in Employment and Occupation (1958))
138 (Minimum Age for Employment (1973))
182 (Worst Forms of Child Labour Convention (1999))

Reported Violations – 2012

Murders: none reported
Attempted Murders: none reported
Threats: none reported
Injuries: none reported
Arrests: none reported
Imprisonments: none reported
Dismissals: none reported

Documented violations – actual number of cases may be higher


The violations of the right to freedom of association continued in 2011, despite the trade union movement's repeated calls for recognition. Collective bargaining is restricted by the legislation and is virtually impossible in practice, as illustrated by the case of domestic workers. Anti-union practices remain firmly in place and are not prohibited by law.


Barbados experienced slight economic growth in 2011, with a 1% rise in real production. The tourism sector, which saw a significant influx of tourists throughout 2011, is the main driver of this recovery. It did not, however, have any direct impact on the creation of new jobs, as unemployment remained unchanged at 10.7%. Practices restricting freedom of association persisted, affecting workers' right to organise, to collective bargaining and to strike.

Trade union rights in law

Despite some initial guarantees, trade union rights are not sufficiently secured in law. While the law secures the right to form unions except for members of the armed forces, employers have no legal obligation to recognise unions. Anti-union activities are not prohibited, and although workers who are wrongfully dismissed can apply to the courts, this right is very limited since judges generally award compensation instead of reinstatement. Furthermore, despite having ratified ILO Convention 98, the right to collective bargaining is not explicitly recognised. Since 1993, a set of protocols has provided for increases in wages, and the fifth Prices and Incomes Protocol was signed by government, the private sector and union representatives in 2005.

Link to additional detailed information regarding the legislation on the ITUC website here

In practice

Right to organise remains weak: Employers refuse to recognise unions in some instances, being under no legal obligation to do so. The Barbados Workers' Union (BWU), affiliated to the ITUC, has called on the government to make the recognition of unions obligatory, provided that the requirements are met in terms of representativeness.

Government neither supports nor guarantees collective bargaining: Given the absence of any legal requirements, collective bargaining is only practised where there is good will between the parties or a tradition of such negotiations. The national legislation only permits the representation of employees in collective bargaining if over 50% of the staff is unionised. Despite recognising unions, employers often refuse to negotiate collective agreements with them.

Anti-union discrimination: There are no laws prohibiting anti-union discrimination, which facilitates anti-union practices. As a result, workers dismissed for union activities are rarely able to secure reinstatement and only receive compensation if they obtain a court ruling in their favour. According to the BWU (Barbados Workers' Union), a law should be passed to make it a punishable offence for employers to deny the right to associate freely.

Precarious employment hampers unionisation and negotiation in domestic work sector: Domestic work in Barbados is precarious, with very low wages that do not correspond to the minimum wage and very limited if any access to social security, as well as unprotected labour rights and conditions. This situation hinders any exercise of the right to organise and collective bargaining. Even where unions are present, collective bargaining remains virtually impossible owing to the legislative constraints in place.


No entry for this country for this year

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