Story Behind Unity Workers Union

Submitted by GoWEB Caribbean


Caswell Franklyn - Head of Unity Workers Union

Over the past few months I have been approached wherever I go by persons who feel that I have somehow let them down by leaving The National Union of Public Workers to form UNITY WORKERS UNION. I hope that the following would clear up the issue.

Sometime ago I was approached by an executive officer of the NUPW, who asked if I would represent one of his relatives since he has no confidence in the ability of the NUPW secretariat to do the job. I eagerly undertook the challenge, and was successful. That officer then asked if I would be interested in returning to the NUPW Staff. I accepted, since worker representation is my preferred employment choice.

It was explained to me that the NUPW was experiencing financial difficulty, and could not pay me the salary that I deserved. I was assured that my salary would be adjusted when the union received a Government-guaranteed loan from the National Insurance Board. As a result, I declined another offer that would have paid me $1200 per month more.

I took up duties on May 19, 2008 as Grievance/Industrial Relations Office on contract for two years, with an option to renew. Initially, I was allowed to work without interference. Eventually, I started to receive suggestions to be less aggressive when representing individual workers because certain Heads of Department were uncomfortable with my style. Over time, those suggestions became requests to do less than my best while conducting a case. Needless to say, I ignored those request and continued to do my best on behalf of NUPW members.

I was even approached, in the supermarket, by one head of department, who I considered a good friend and asked not to represent a certain worker. I had an easy choice to make: that head of department and I are no longer friends after more than 20 years. Unfortunately for me, that officer had friends among the hierarchy of the union.

When the matter of the renewal of my contract came up for discussion, the General Secretary wrote in a notepaper to the Executive on December 11, 2009:

There is no doubt that Mr. Franklyn has brought considerable value to this organization on his employment. He is second to none in the industrial relations arena in Barbados in relation to the legal rights of workers in the public service and the private sector. His vast knowledge of employment law and its application has caused him to be sought after for advice by many an attorney on an almost daily basis.

To date, the quality and thoroughness of his work has placed him head and shoulders above the industrial relations officers at this institution. He is always ready and willing to give advice and to assist them in their work.

I was scheduled to start vacation on May 1, 2010 but was asked to hold on because the General Secretary and other senior officers would be leaving the island. Instead, I started the vacation on May 19, 2010 but before doing so, I wrote to the acting General Secretary and exercised my option to renew the contract.

On the last day of that vacation (June 6th) I went to the airport, at the request of the President of the Barbados Air Traffic Controllers Association, to assist with negotiations since I was one of the officers assigned to that department. Before the meeting started, while seated at the table, the General Secretary informed those present that he would not sit at any meeting with me. In response to a query, NUPW President, Walter Maloney, said that I no longer had a relationship with the NUPW. He also said that the Government side had called him out of the room and stated that I was not employed by the union and would not be meeting with me in the room. That is when I found out that I was not employed by the National Union of Public Workers.

I subsequently learned that while I was on vacation, a letter from the Chief Personnel Officer, complaining about me had been discussed by the National Council of the union. I had appealed against the wrongful dismissal of a clerical officer to the Governor-General in Privy Council in which I highlighted the conduct of the Chief Personnel Officer. I was never asked to respond to any of the allegations in the letter. As a matter of fact, to date, I have never been shown a copy of the letter.

Contrary to reports in one section of the media: I did not break away from NUPW to form Unity Workers Union. I was ceremoniously dumped by NUPW for doing my job without fear or favour.

Unity Workers Union is an initiative started by workers who keenly felt the lost of the representation that I offered, and they asked that I continue to represent them by forming a union. We are now offering that quality representation to all workers in Barbados.

31 thoughts on “Story Behind Unity Workers Union

  1. I wish you success in whatever you chose to do. This new union The Unity Workers Union could just be what’s needed to shake up many people who are misusing the positions over the little man. Anytime it’s no longer business as usual. Or one hand washing the other. You are going to become an enemy to many, but a champion for the little man; THIS IS WHAT’S HAPPENING. As I have said from the start. May you and this union be a success;

  2. What did you expect from Walter Maloney? Was he not promoted to Customer Services Manager after an ‘amalgamation’ of departments while, even as President of the NUPW, colleagues were being dismissed from the NHC? Now today he is in the Nation pretending to be concerned about the 20% tax on travel allowance.

  3. Alleged, Hmmmmmm, NUPW Government Guaranteed Loan from the NIS? Is this how our retirement funds are being used on the backs of people that have to pay increases every year to NIS. If NUPW can get loans, why can’t other persons, why don’t we just shut down NIS. It states that NUPW had financial challenges, let’s lend them some NIS money then.

  4. I can also respond to the formation of unity workers union of which i have become a member after having a file almost eight inches thick with unfairness and leaving the nupw and going with the bwu whose general secretary accompanied me to the chief personnel officer re a matter of appointment to a post i have been in since 2001 and being qualified to be chief telecommunication officer as the qualification requirements for that job will show.
    I was also appointed to the Barbados Coast Guard in a letter from the personnel department dated September 16 1974, and after some very unfair treatment and supersession all like now, decided to retire and some almost two years is still having problems.
    I also received a memo from my then head of department directing me to start working from home and to this day even though it was mentioned by Sir Roy at a meeting with the government hve never received an apology, qualifications and job descriptions have been changed and even those are affecting me.
    A temporary post of the same i am in was created and a request was made for a junior officer to be placed in the post and when that was established he was appointed to it, making him senior to me and other persons in the department.
    I was also told to apply for a training course which was being offered by the International Telecommunication Union with the expectation that i would not be accepted.
    Funny enough, the same head backed me and on realizing that i was accepted told me that it was not necessary.
    I have been an inspector for the department since being appointed in 2001, an amateur examiner for some 16 years, have attended some 11 overseas training courses, represented this country in South Korea and Japan after being chosen by them, GMDSS in Antigua, Falmouth in England with ICS electronics and the Coast Guard, was given a Chevening scholarship in Systems Engeneering and due to only four persons to start the second year it was discontinued and along with the British Council, Economic Affairs, Training Unit and my depart was allowed to do a Higher National Diploma in Business and Finance which i now hold, attended training in most telecommunication courses disaster communication management and is on a DVD by the United States Telecommunications Training Institute celebrating their 25th anniversary and acted Senior Telecommunications Officer, applied for the same post when it was advertised and was the most suited candidate but as was said not qualified and therefore it was not filled, but a younger officer was put to act in it.
    I have mentioned all the above to draw your attention to the unfairness in the service and the reason why as soon as officers do their thirtythree and a third years are applying for retirement and no one else is helping except caswell, as the BWU do have many civil servants and if they do have represented them all alone.
    Caswell have assisted all and i cannot think of one case which he has lost and to boot most heads of departments are verrrrrry scared of him. Keep working Cas we are behind you.
    I can produce all info mentioned above if necessary and will.
    Ronald Kennedy

  5. Perhaps Mr. Franklin you can agitate also on the behalf of the consumers of Barbados who every day continue to pay for a service which they do not receive. I speak of LIME, and the package they offer of megaplus package of 1.5 mega bytes for $111.00 and the mega max package of 2megabytes for $133.00.

    The thing is that you do not get the 2megabytes but still have to pay for the service. This is totally unethical and there is no one to whom we the consumers can get justice.

    I will continue to speak out on this until LIME either give us what we pay for or reduce their price.

    See how you can help Mr. Franklin

  6. Congrats to you, your step is a bold one in the right direction, I just hope some more genuine prominent persons in this society would step forward and start a NEW politican party and rescue this country from disaster

  7. MashUp
    I like Caswell to but fa diff’rent reasons. He’s so cute. I joinin he party too. But wait, um is a party or a union? I gettin mix-up as nusual.
    Mashup you good udda wize?

  8. Pretty Blue Eyes
    Anyone can join Unity Workers Union: membership is opened to all persons who are employed in Barbados.

  9. Mashup
    Listen, my motto is and has always been:’Sharing is Caring’. effen you want ta interpret dat as a ‘horn’, not in my book. It is ‘sharing’ Mashup, ok?I wonda if dis Caswell fella is famblee ta Boswell from St. Philip? Warrick Franklin n dem fellas. I in see Warrick fa long but in he heyday, he use ta mek me sweat pun a rainy day man. Sexyyyyyy.

  10. New political parties can lead to more group think mentality that is putting more people off politics. With around 30% of the eligible voters staying away from the polls, there is surely space for a new type of movement, maybe Caswell will get there.


  11. Go Caswell! Remember your old school’s motto, “Up and On”! As you Cawemerians would say, “Mighty undertakings here!”

  12. Mr Franklyn,today we hear on the news of the NUPW’s plan to lease Building #3 at Newton Industrial Estate to set up a Buyers Club. Are they really serious about this? Have they seen the state of this building which has been abandoned for the past 15 years? Are they familiar with the history of this building?

    • @Caswell

      What is your position on the current confusion around the allowances issue? A breach of the constitution as some are suggesting?

  13. Nationalist
    The NUPW is quite serious about a buyers club. I know this because I had sight of a letter to the Government, written by the General Secretary, where he proposed a wage freeze if the Government give the union the building at Newton to be used for the buyers club.

    • Submitted on 2011/02/10 at 11:43 PM

      The NUPW is quite serious about a buyers club. I know this because I had sight of a letter to the Government, written by the General Secretary, where he proposed a wage freeze if the Government give the union the building at Newton to be used for the buyers club.


      You have to be kidding, right?

  14. 112A.
    The salaries and allowances payable to the holders of offices
    established under the Civil Establishment Act and the Defence Act shall not be altered to their disadvantage.

    If i remember right this blp legislation was added so the that government couldn’t touch public servant salaries as a reaction to what the the dlp did with the 8 1/2% cut. The civil establishment act basically is almost the whole civil service so it does seem there is no way legally they can touch the allowances other than the private sector.

    Now this does seem like scene from Yes (Prime) Minister. Were the public service is making sure the government can’t do anything. Or it could be government isn’t listening to the public sector. Or it could be be combination of both. Which one is it ?

  15. David
    I will write a complete post on the question of the tax on allowances. The revelations will curl your hair. However, to answer your question, the tax, on the allowances, is constitutional.

    In 1991 Government reduced the salaries of public officers by 8%. It was challenged all the way to the Privy Council who declared that the reduction was constitutional. When they came to office the Arthur Administration amended the Constitution to prevent any future reductions of this nature. In essence, it would now be unconstitutional to reduce a public officer’s gross salary. In this case, the gross salary remains the same, Government is only imposing a tax which applies to all taxpayers who receive those allowances. The question of unconstitutionality does not arise.

  16. David
    I am not kidding.
    I am well aware of the law relating to defamation. The lawyers would tell you that truth is a complete defence to a charge of defamation. I would be a fool to reveal my identity and publish lies.

  17. I disagree with Mr. Caswell as to it being constitutional.

    A definition for allowance in tax purposes.
    Allowances: deductions or exemptions generally made in computing income taxes. Allowances are often fixed amounts which may be deducted from taxable amounts of income. They may, however, vary with certain items of personal or business expenditure, example mortgage interest or capital allowance.

    If you charge tax on allowances they would cease to be allowance and would instead just be added to your salary . As such the implied removal of allowance would be deem unconstitutional. Thereby making the action unconstitutional.

  18. It should be interesting to read Caswell’s detailed explanation. Part of the problem we have in Barbados is how we obfuscate everything. Why should the most authoritative sources in Barbados not come to the public to clarify this matter.

  19. Caswell Franklyn;
    One area I’ve wondered about recently is the legality of Government charging income tax on the full NIS pensions of retirees. Is there a case for “lobbying” Government to provide an allowance for such pensions of say 10% of the NIS pension since the worker would have already paid the full tax on all NIS deductions taken from his salary over the years of his employment. To be required to pay another tax on top of that already paid over the years of employment seems somehow wrong?

  20. @ Caswell ,If the Government gives the NUPW building #3 at Newton as a trade off for a wage freeze, then the Government has come out way on top, as this building is probably worth very little,and will cost the NUPW millions to refurbish it. I hope that the deal did not include Government’s refurbishment of the building.
    The things that go on behind close doors.

  21. I offer sincere congratulations to Mr. Franklyn. The manner in which his services were terminated can only be described as scandalous.
    The entire workers movement in Barbados is under siege by political operatives operating on behalf of both the Democratic Labour Party and the Barbados Labour Party.
    I wish Mr. Franklyn all the best.

  22. i removed my membership from the NUPW years ago as on observation, i noticed that they covertly help the employer and overtly say they are they for the workers. i know that they is never a debate or negotiations with workers salaries, the Govt would say “we giving 8% increase” in meetings with the union, the union with hold a meeting with its members, “we demanding 10%” and not a penny less”. weeks later in the news we will see the Government and the Unions have another round of talks. the union will meet with the workers after these ‘talks’-“because of such and such, it is only reasonable… we will negotiate for 8% and will not back down”. govt workers then get their 8% increase in December with back pay so that they feel they are getting something. i know, i have been there that is why they will not get my money. govt decides WHAT TO GIVE it’s workers NOT the unions. i admire Caswell for his frankness, if i have to join a union, it will be his and i am seriously considering that.

  23. the right honourable caslwell franklyn is a highly respected man in england. he probably does not know that many african caribbean people have been admiring his integrity in england these recent months. we salute him as a pan-africanist. his actions are revered. he is amongst our african caribbean greats. we watch over him from afar and bless the workers of barbados who must treasure caswell franklyn too. blessings and love to our fellow caribbeans across the water.

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