The Irish model of social Partnership has received little more that lip service in the Caribbean. Evaluate the strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of this concept in the Caribbean.
What is Social Partnership
Social partnership refers to cooperation among government, the private business sector and labour on strategies to address immediate and long-term economic and social challenges. Such strategies can include controls on wages and prices, as well as tax reform. Social partnerships are, therefore, overarching in their aim to provide stability for national growth and development. Social partnerships can also include civil society and voluntary groups, and tend to be implemented when governments have been unable to address societal and economic challenges unilaterally. (Minto-Coy, L. 2011)
The Irish Model of Social Partnership
It was stated in the paper Social Partnerships and Development: Implications for the Caribbean that Social partnership has been a significant feature of growth in Ireland since the late 1980s. Social partnership in Ireland emerged out of the intense economic crisis in the mid-1980s. The Irish economy in the early 1980s was in a state of social and economic crisis, marred by high government debt.
Irish social partnership originated with the National Economic and Social Council (NESC), an independent
economic advisory body created in 1973, with membership consisting of representatives from private, non-governmental and public sectors. (Beary, 2007).
A key component of the Irish model was the introduction of a hiring “freeze” that saw only one in three public-sector vacancies filled. A wage agreement of a 2.5 percent salary increase each year for both the private and public sectors was reached, allowing the government more control over expenditures. In return, the government promised and delivered a number of tax cuts while simultaneously introducing measures to reduce tax evasion. Public sector employees were allowed to take work leaves with guarantees of a job upon their return. In an effort to reduce social dislocation and inequity, the condition of low-paid workers was given attention A review of GDP per capita growth in Ireland since the introduction of the social partnership indicates why the Irish experience has been held up as a model of social partnership success. The late 1980s marked the beginning of a period of rapid growth in Ireland, where productivity, employment, investment and the inflow of skilled labour increased. In the years following the introduction of the social partnership, the size and cost of the public sector declined, resulting in a leaner, more efficient and productive government. This allowed the government to improve pay and working conditions for the workers who remained (CaPRI, 2008). Inflation was reduced and the national debt was reduced to 40 percent by 2001 (Cassidy, 2002). The budget deficit of 8.3 percent GDP in 1987 was converted into a surplus of 0.7...