Are Trade Unions Still Relevant?

Sir Leroy Trotman who heads the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) has accused DIAMONDS International of firing 30 workers because they attended a union meeting on the weekend. Sir Roy has threatened to shut the country down if the foreign owned entity does not review it position. Caswell Franklyn who heads Unity Trade Union and veteran trade unionist has suggested Sir Roy should escalate the matter to the police – Barbados Underground

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

As long as there are workers whose rights are being infringed, or who work under substandard conditions, there will be a need for the trade union movement, or something very much like it.

This question only arises because people look on and judge the movement by the current crop of leaders. The unfavourable opinion of trade unions should really be an unfavourable opinion of its leadership. Most of them wear too many hats, sometimes openly but oftentimes clandestinely which result in the cause of the workers taking a back seat to the other agenda.

Another problem which can sometimes be regarded as a positive is that unions, for the most part, are democratic institutions. That being the case, as in parliamentary elections, the most popular, not necessarily the best equipped candidate, is elected to lead.

A good case in point to demonstrate the need to have a body to represent the interests of the workers is the Employment Rights Bill that is making its way through Parliament. The workers needed a strong voice but also an enlightened voice to secure and hold onto those rights that already exists. Instead, we saw the trade union movement being out-gunned by the employers’ lobby. This is not to say that the bill is not a step in the right direction, but the workers’ cause was not sufficiently represented in the final bill. Even though the workers’ representatives fell down with regard to the Employment Rights Bill that does not mean that there would not be future opportunities for a robust trade union movement to assert itself. But the workers need to come together to ensure that the right people emerge to represent their interests.

Just recently, a union with membership in excess of 10,000 members could not muster a quorum of 50 persons to conduct their annual general meeting. During their last elections, less than ten per cent of the membership participated. That same apathy has manifested itself in parliamentary elections, which has, in the recent past, resulted in extremely ill-equipped candidate being elected. People don’t only get the government they deserve; they also get the trade union leaders they deserve. However, we do not have people asking if governments are relevant.

The trade union movement is very relevant and needs to be protected for future generations from people who aspire to leadership whose main agenda is not the cause of the workers. If the movement ceases to exists, workers would be at the mercy of employers who want to make money without regard to the living and working conditions of the workforce.

0 thoughts on “Are Trade Unions Still Relevant?

  1. “This question only arises because people look on and judge the movement by the current crop of leaders.”

    Methinks this doesn’t only apply to the trade union movement…. Question begs… Is there better leadership “around?”

    If so, where is it or why hasn’t it “risen?”

    If not, what the hell are we teaching and mentoring?

  2. The Trade Union Movement must not just die but must be absolutely sacrificed in honor of a greater thrust that lies ahead – that of – the evolution of the status of workers into that of partners – where by these persons will become partowners of the only multimember corporate business entities that a future PDC Government will create for Barbados – partnerships – in the forseeable future in this country.

    Such partnerships will give those partners greater say in the direction in which those partnerships go; they will have the rights to access and scrutinize all critical information relative to the functioning of those partnerships, and will make sure that all persons will be remunerated in profits – which are rights and privileges that workers do not have now.

    It is these trade union bodies – moreso their leaderships – that wish workers to remain workers for centuries to come in Barbados and elsewhere, so that there will continue to be this very damned domestic international state oligarchic political economic exploitation marginalization and dispossession of these many otherwise hard working persons

    It is sad when such trade union leaderships ally themselves with owners/directors – private and government – in this most ungodly dehumanizing enervating process.

    Just like the BLP and DLP which emerged out of the pre-independence era in this country, so must the Barbados Workers Union, the National Union of Public Workers – which emerged out of those times too – and sundry other later day unions and associations too, must be seen as the some of the biggest obstacles to the further development of the affairs of the masses and middle classes of people in this country.

    These archaic moribund and the more recent obstacles must be totally permanently REMOVED at all costs by the broad masses and middle classes in the interest of the securing of greater freedom and liberty and in the interest of the further development of a stronger better more progressive Barbadian society.

    So, now is the time to greater instil in workers that they are capable enough, with all their highly trained/qualified skills and services and interests, of becoming owners of capital, assets and property, and of becoming greater craftmen and women of our fate in this country.

    Present workers and many others must join with the PDC in this rallying call for us – the majority of people in Barbados – in forming social organizations that will exist to pursue such greater human development causes.


    • @Caswell

      If the union membership is as passive as you suggest does it not mean they are happy with the representation they are getting?

  3. ‘However, we do not have people asking if governments are relevant.’
    bro franklyn- i do believe there must be some form of governance but it must be driven by parliament and not the political institutions. i believe that political parties have outlived their usefulness unlike trade unionism. i do agree that trade union leadership is weak; the present crop haven’t prepared themselves for the industrial relations challenges which have emerged as a result of the changing environment. had not for the solid foundation laid by leaders of times past, the trade union movement would be hardpressed to survive.

  4. David

    Workers are not happy with the representation that they have been receiving, but they are too docile to do anything about.

    • @Caswell

      Your explanation doesn’t compute. Barbadians are docile but when it comes to compensation most docile people should get aggressive.

  5. @ Caswell
    Are you saying that the reason for being in existence is that bosses continue to exploit workers and working conditions continue to be sub standard….?

    You just explained exactly why the leadership is poor, why the movement is failing and why the very question of continued existence arises at all.

    ANY ORGANIZATION THAT EXIST ONLY FOR NEGATIVE REASONS deserves to become extinct. If managers were intelligent enough to act in their own interest by treating workers like partners what would the current unions be needed to do…? …and if the role is simply to fight idiotic bosses – why do we need anything other than the current Mary R types? No common sense needed for that…

    After the Frank Walcott era, the union movement, (if it was as visionary as it likes to think that it is,) would have transformed itself into a true representative of the workers by FINDING ITSELF IN THE BOARDROOMS OF BARBADOS as significant shareholders on workers behalf.

    Rather than fighting for crumbs in the form of pittance wage increases, they should have been fighting for FULL PARTNERSHIP of workers at the decision making level.

    But little men were more interested in building their little empires – which meant playing ball with the politicians and the businessmen….and pretending to continue with the 1950s tactics of ‘march and strike.’

    Caswell, when you going leave out that Unity thing and start working to take up your REAL calling…? 🙂

  6. maybe instead of the word docile it maybe the workers might feel threatened by the backlash from leadership if they speak out against them. but that is sad because then what is the point of being in an organisation where leadership cannot be trusted .

  7. If the movement ceases to exists, workers would be at the mercy of employers who want to make money without regard to the living and working conditions of the workforce.
    Is this not this case anyway? The head of the nupw works in a building where the workers are constantly complaining for respiratory complaints, where the edp did testing on air quality, where mold is visable on cabinets, furniture, glass partitions and what has he done?…….NOTHING TO REPRESENT THE WORKERS!

    The trade unions are of no relevance to me because I cannot trust leaders who will try to play the friendship card (with the ones against whom I have a matter) and tell me to hold off while they try to sort the matter out and three years later I can’t hear anything from anybody but can see a man rise up off his sick bed to represent Jeff Broomes!

    No, I will do like so many others and simply wait for the government to change and then go another route to get my matter resolved another way!

    • Mystified

      Your comments are symptomatic of what is wrong with the labour movement in this country. Workers have given up and have taken the attitude that there is nothing that they can do to change things, and they do nothing. Unfortunately, there is a core group that have a few items on their agenda, mainly; their own self interest and securing their party in power, that have taken hold of the major unions namely: BWU, NUPW and BUT. When the DLP is in power these unions forget that they are suppose to represent workers. On the other hand, when the BLP is in power the unions compete to prove who is the most militant. Workers do not have to stand for that but they are so disillusioned that they just throw their hands up in the air.

      Your comments about the environmental conditions at NUPW are quite true, but haven’t you realized that unions are the worst employers: they treat their employees like dirt. There are employees at NUPW who haven’t received their annual increment in at least ten years while the union continues to promise to put a different payment scheme in place, mind you there are others who get increases under some very curious circumstances.

      Earlier someone questioned my use of the word docile to describe the membership of the established unions, but how else could you describe NUPW members saying nothing after discovering that in excess of $700,000 of the union’s money has been spent on a project that was never approved by either the general membership or the National Council of the union.

  8. But Caswell,
    You know that Dennis Clarke’s illness raised the issue of NUPW’s future. They use to have Wayne Waldron out front as a face for the future but all of a sudden he is scarce. Derek Alleyne is gone and fast approaching retirement age, You are gone with your own Union. Who next after Clarke finally retires?

    At BWU Trotman keeps saying he wants to go but they keep begging him to stay. Bobby is gone, Gabby Scott is an old man, Richards already retired, Mayers is almost 80 years old. And they don’t seem to have a young crop.
    So, is there even going to be a labour movement when the current old heads go?

    • @Caswell

      Lizbeth makes a good point. Is there an opportunity to work your way back into the executive of any of the two leading unions?

      Surely the BWU can’t be considering Toni and Walrond at the NUPW?

    • Lizbeth

      NUPW has been on autopilot since Goddard retired. Clarke was promoted to the level of his incompetence. He was quite happy to let Wayne speak and be the alternate voice of the union because Wayne would make even Clarke look competent. NUPW will survive after Clarke, I believe that “after Clarke” would be the best thing that could happen to the union. With Roslyn at the helm while he was on sick leave, the union started to really do some work. The work at NUPW does not happen as a result of Clarke: it happens despite Clarke. You should really be asking what will happen after Roslyn Smith and Delcia Burke go.

      At BWU, Trotman is not holding on because they need him: he is holding on to groom an “ungroomable” young lady, all the while holding back the young talented Julian Hunte, who is the future of BWU if they let him.

  9. Caswell
    As long as we have capitalism and some greedy employersbusinessmen who set out to rip off workers unscrupulously…we will need people like you and Unity.A world without TU’s would be chaotic,with frequent strikes and down times ..productivity falling.

  10. Just heard that DIAMONDS INTERNATIONAL fired a bunch of workers today when the boss found out that they met with the Union. Let we all hope this is not another Royal Shop.

    Workers whether Union or not must shout that this cannot do in “Our Barbados”, Decent employers must shout that this is not what we practise in “Our Barbados”.
    We got to fight for our Barbados, people! Tomorrow is Labour Day.

  11. it seems that these unions are too closely politically tied and as a result some thing or some one have to suffer and unfortunately leadership self interest takes precedent over workers what in reality can be termed a conflict of interest leaving the members out in the cold with no one to turn to. it would take a concerted effort agree by all members to withdraw their membership and that would not happen because of the many factions and allegiances made by leaders within the union.

  12. Lizbeth
    Two weeks ago I made the comment (LIME dispute) that many will now try all ‘kinds of thinks’ under this administration..and may get away with it, as they see the indecisiveness in decision making. Sadly like it is coming to being……

  13. onions boy,
    Your teacher friends are very mad with Freundel, they say that he has let them down, he is not trustworthy and one a hardcore Dem on the Executive say that she is done with the Dems. Both the President and the General Secretary are Foundationers and I wonder if they thought that Fruendel who is also a Foundationer would have taken their side. But they say that the PM sold them out and led them to believe that he would send the principal on leave. One principal at this gathering I was at said that this is a victory for all principals that had the PM given the union what they wanted, it would be hell to pay for principals everywhere in Barbados. WOW!!!!

    • I just saw Sir Roy on television claiming that 30 workers were dismissed from Diamonds International because they attended a union meeting. He then went on to threaten industrial action. If what he is saying is true the management of Diamonds International would have committed a criminal offence. That being the case, Sir Roy should report the matter to the police or consult their lawyer with a view to instituting a private criminal prosecution. Section 40A of the Trade Union Act speaks for itself:

      40A. An employer who –
      (a) dismisses a workman or adversely affects the employment or alters the position of a workman to his prejudice because that workman –
      (i) is or proposes to become an officer, delegate or member of a trade union,

      (ii) being a member of a trade union which is seeking better labour conditions, is dissatisfied with his conditions.

      (iii) has absented himself from work without leave after he has made an application for leave for the purpose of carrying out his duties or exercising his rights as an officer or delegate of a trade union and such leave has unreasonably been refused or withheld, or

      (iv) takes part in trade union activities outside or, with the consent of the employer, within working hours: or
      (b) threatens to dismiss a workman or to adversely affect the employment or alter the position of a workman to his prejudice –
      (i) because that workman is or proposes to become an officer, delegate or member of a trade union or other combination which has applied to be registered as a trade union, or

      (ii) with intent to dissuade or prevent that workman from becoming an officer, delegate or member of a trade union.
      is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or to both.

      I also saw the Prime Minister vowing that he and his Government would protect workers rights. What about the rights of the workers at the Urban Development Commission who were dismissed just because they were suspected of being members and supporters of the BLP?

  14. Peoples. Imagine the UNION in Dalkeith really stink with rusty furniture moldy atmosphere and stupid posters on the wall with olddd papers hanging around and you preach Occupational Health and safety. Shame on those leaders.

  15. Wha loss Caswell you is a real demon fa trute….lol tek care D man can’t sleep tonight….Caswell call the police nah !

  16. @ Caswell
    I also saw the Prime Minister vowing that he and his Government would protect workers rights. What about the rights of the workers at the Urban Development Commission who were dismissed just because they were suspected of being members and supporters of the BLP?
    As usual Caswie…top shot…..its called a “prejudiced one-eyed view”…..By the way has anyone heard anything of the LIME wages settlement ? What has become of their dispute ? Last word…..we were supposed to be be briefed on the matter since Good Friday weekend..(I was overseas since} did I miss something ?

  17. This is not a fight for Government alone. This is a fight that the people of Barbados need to get involve with and in. They can engage this company by boycotting them. You the Barbadian people have the ultimate power to bring this company to it’s knees.

    • Adrian

      The evidence presented so far suggest that employer would have committed a criminal offence, since it is against the law for an employer to dismiss a worker who joins or proposes to join a trade union. What do you think of my suggestion to report the matter to the police or to bring a private criminal action against the employer?

    • @Caswell

      You are well placed to know that unions give great credence to making noise for the gallery. Is this a case going the traditional route to demonstrate the might of the trade union?

  18. @Caswell:
    It is a good point and approach; however if there is no proof that they were indeed fired as Sir Roy suggested then there is no case. Although Barbados does have a problem with foreign born business people flouting cultural norms, and established practices, it is an unusual step to engage in illegal practices such as you have suggested, and in such a public and crass manner. It would be silly for this company to say in writing or in the media that the reason they fired the workers were as the Union boss said.

    If true -what Sir Roy stated- this isn’t only offensive to the fired workers, it is offensive to every law abiding Barbadian, and they should urge government to intervene, and they themselves to abstain from conducting any business with this company. You cannot get change if you do not put in your two cents worth. People will continue to walk all over you if you don’t stand up to them, in their faces.

  19. ac,
    I do not spread propoganda, that info came out of someone who was there, a fellow Foundationer. You cant handle the truth about your party at all.

    • Would be interesting to get feedback about the robust statement delivered by Sir yesterday:

      “to tell these foreign people that this is not Syria, this is not Damascus, this is not Libya”.

  20. David

    It is clear that making noise for the gallery and what you called the traditional approach has not worked in the recent past. If you do something in a particular way over and over and you get the same result, what would make you think that if you do it the same way again you would get a different result? It is time that the unions use a different approach.

    Without going into the details of the Royal Shop matter and assuming that the workers were fired because they joined the union as alleged; let us imagine that the matter was taken to court and the employer convicted and sentenced, Do you think that another employer would have tried dismissing workers for joining a union any time soon?

  21. Prodigal Son! That disclosure that the teachers are upset with Stuart was a given. There is no way they could not be upset given the AX events.

  22. I would like to Join Onions in asking what is the status of the Lime deal. It would appear that the workers are not on strike and Sir Roy has stated that the PM negotiated a good settlement that would apparently commit Lime to pay out more to its Barbadian employees than to its other subregional employees. The PM was supposed to come out and take a victory lap several weeks ago but since then there appears to have been a gag order placed on both sides.

    Do we have another AX phase 1 type settlement here with Sir Roy engaged in wishful thinking?

    Could it be time for Sir Roy to go? He seems to be making the kind of mistakes that are only analagous to the mistakes made by a tired OSA in the last 2 years or so of his 14 years as PM.

  23. If I may offer my side on this…. it’s not within Sir Roy’s place to go against PM ‘s wishes. I distinctly remember Sir Roy pointing to the fact that …”we will hear more on the LIME settlement from the PM in a press release. ” Since then, (Monday morn.) there was news of something gone array.
    Why seek to implicate the man Sir Roy ?

    The problem seems to be a leadership matter of …” Who robbing this train ..You or Jesse ? “…syndrome…people testing who is boss…having noted past events.

    • @Onions

      Who is legally bound to represent the LIME workers?

      If the Prime Minister is tardy in making a promised public announcement why does he (Sir Roy) not feel obligated to speak on the matter of the PM’s silence?

  24. The trade union movement has blended into the socio/political fabric of the society. Once the movement moved away from activism to the so-called social partnership, its activism wing either disappeared or simply became comatose. I will continue to suggest that the social partnership is a two edged sword.

  25. David; I agree with Onions on this one. Sir Roy should only be expected to comment further on the Lime matter if he had knowledge of behind the scenes moves by Lime head Office overseas to water down the “preliminary agreements” reached between the Lime local reps and the PM and Sir Roy. In fact such a behind the scenes move is the only possibility that makes sense re. the PM’s promise to have a press release on the matter several weeks ago and not keeping that promise.

    So perhaps we may hear something soon, a la AX where the PM, may once more, be appearing to go against a Union. If that indeed happens then we should really hear Sir Roy pompasetting.

    But I wouldn’t hold my breath on that one.

    • @checkit-out

      Fair enough but you should consider we have two issues at play here. The promise 1) that the PM would make the agreement public, and he has not to his political detriment and 2) the need for BWU, the union responsible for the workers, to agitate for a final agreement if the time for the PM’s announcement is deem too long.

      What if he takes 6-months are you saying Sir Roy remains anchored to a promise by the PM which appears to be stillborn?

    • @Caswell

      Heard you today on the talk show. How could you have done the unthinkable by criticizing the social partnership? Don’t you know it is a sacred cow!

  26. Sir Roy has overstayed his welcome. He is now worn and just marking time. His success rate is highly questionable. Now he is making these racist statements which are totally out of place! Sir Frank must be turning in his grave!!

  27. “If the Prime Minister is tardy in making a promised public announcement why does he (Sir Roy) not feel obligated to speak on the matter of the PM’s silence?”
    perhaps even Sir Roy realises that that it is a lost cause trying to get the Prime Minister to speak on matters of which he does not intend to speak. My understanding is that the Prime MInister has received an official Clico report yet there has been no comment. Perhaps he is still at phase one of the report.

  28. re. balance post of 1:30 PM;

    Or perhaps he is in phase 2 of the Government’s CLICO public perception management strategy which seems to be purpose built for his proclivities. i.e. avoid any engagement with the public on anything related to CLICO.

    Phase one probably was; avoid being served with any official negative information on CLICO that a typical Government might consider it necessary to respond to. (i.e. any information on CLICO)

    Phase 3 might be; ensure as far as possible that nothing negative comes out of the JM report about CLICO before the Elections.

  29. Since time eternal foreign companies have with impunity,treated Bajans like step-children in good old Barbados.Truth be told there are some pets that receive better treatment.Caswell is right on point.This is a matter for the law courts.This is also a matter that every trade union in the country should speak to,in one clear voice.However that will never happen.Over the years inaction on the part of the leaders in the movement led to disillusionment,hence the members’s docility.I take you back to one Saturday morning at a store on swan’s street when a bajan man was kicked– yes kicked in the ass by a syrian store owner.What happened? Nothing.Lets go back to the indignities bajans endured while they gave their labour to Ram Merchandani.The same institution that stymied every attempt to get the Rams to respect us back then is very much alive today,so the end result most surely shall be the same.Know why that institution still lives?WE VOTED FOR THEM.

  30. @David

    I think Sir Roy Trotmam should leave BWU. he is past the retirement age, even though he has asked the Council for an extension to ensure that Robert Morris never becomes head of BWU. He has that effort.

    I think he should remember the Royal Shop and the Sandy Lane issues and one at the Harbour Road, The result nothing came out of them after pontificating on what he was going to do.

    Please note that I am not against trade unions, nor am i am against freedaom of association. I am against him raising peoples’ expectation and delivering nothing. He must recognize that u cant use brute force in this situation as the emppyer is not duty bound to continue to employ the workers of whom he spoke. . if they are entiled to severance, every effort should be made to ensure that they receive their severance. He has no legal authority to act on their behalf although he might think it is morally wrong for the company to have fired the workers.

    I would suggest that he appeal to Barbadians to exert pressure on the company by not doing business with it, but are we our brother’s keeper..

  31. David

    The worst thing that happened to the cause of workers in my lifetime is the establishment of the social partnership. It was created in at a time when the politicians in government and in the labour movement wanted to control the anger of the workers. Around the time of the 8 per cent pay cut, when the workers were demanding action from the union leaders. You would recall that Bobby did not support the workers and Sir Roy was conveniently away from the House for the vote. I remember seeing him signing cheques at the CCL instead of supporting the workers. At that time all the leaders of the major unions were firmly in the camp of the DLP. I would put my head on the block that the social partnership would not have been formed if the BLP were in power. The social partnership was conceived in sin and born in sin, it is high time that it is exercised.

    When Owen Arthur came to power he took over the demon that is the social partnership and also used it to control the legitimate expectations of workers. The resulting trade union movement is now totally disrespected.

  32. The word is “exorcized” the iPad kept changing it. It would only remain if I used a “z” like the Americans.

    • @Caswell

      Where do we go from here?

      How do the workers fight back or is it too late?

      You should be able to go to Settings on the ipad >system preference>Language – to change to English vs American etc.

  33. @Prodigal

    Yeah ! Yeah is dat truth or TRUT!in your propagandise comment on may 2 @ 10.05am

    Look of all the issues about the economy all wunna could talk about is CLICO which is heading for the court and under wunna 14year watch did nothing to stop the collaspe CHECK!
    Then there is Barrack that under wunna 14 year watch did nothing to pay de poor guy!CHECK1

    then AX that too under wunna 14 year watch played footsie wid the tyrannical JEFFREY BROOMES and wunna did nothing about! ChecK!
    Now allof a sudden wunna had a light bulb moment and decided it is HIGH TIME THE DLP solve 14years of the OSA adminstration in 2 years give or take how many months Stuart was PM
    But wait with all the high expectancy the BLP have of winning why should the DLP be in any hurry to help wunna out. Those problems handed back to wunna on a platter would be a nice gift.don’t you think so!

    • Statement by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Diamonds International remarks
      by Barbados Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BCCI) on Wednesday, May 2, 2012 at 5:41pm ·

      The Barbados Chamber of Commerce and industry is appalled by the statements attributed to Sir Roy Trotman in relation to one of our member companies Diamonds International.

      Sir Roy is reported to have said that 20 workers at Diamonds International were terminated on Monday 30 April 2012 because they met on Saturday April 28 to discuss whether they should form a bargaining unit. He is also reported to have referred to the managing director of the company as an “Egyptian Jew” and called on all employers to “to tell these foreign people that this is not Syria, this is not Damascus, this is not Libya”.

      The BCCI fully supports the right of any employee to join a union of their choice and the principles laid out in the protocol of the social partnership. We also support the provision within the draft employment rights bill under section 30 which indicates that an employee should not be discriminated against on account of their race or religion and suggest that neither should an employer be discriminated against on a similar basis.

      The BCCI has consulted with Diamonds International to ascertain the facts and they have reported that 7 persons had their contracts terminated following an extended period of consultation as a result of the recommendations of their immediate supervisors. Their termination is in no way related to any intention that they might have had to form a bargaining unit. In fact, the company stressed that it has informed staff that they are free to join any organisation that they choose, including a union, without fear of repercussion.

      Over the last four years while the economy has been very difficult and many companies within Barbados have closed, Diamonds International has honoured the Protocol of the Social Partnership and has not laid anyone off as a result of the recession. In fact, Diamonds International has shown great commitment to the Barbadian economy by expanding during this difficult time, most notably by opening new stores at the Lime Grove Lifestyle Centre. The company currently employs 130 persons.

      The managing director, Mr. Jacob Hassid, has lived in Barbados for 17 years and he and his wife have three children all of whom were born in Barbados. When someone has shown this level of commitment to our country, we should not be referring to them by race or religion and seeking to make them feel personally uncomfortable.

      We would hope that Sir Roy would investigate the facts and, once he is satisfied that he has been mis-informed, would withdraw his uncalled for remarks.

  34. The trade unions in Barbados needs to move to a higher level, gone are the days when members are called out on strike, the union should then be begging the very employers not to dock the strikers’ pay. Furthermore, the union should be at the stage where they control the recruitment of new staff to a company I E a person should be a member of the union representing the workers at the Company, before he/she could be employed by the company. Unions in Barbados are still in the 19th century, they MUST move to a much higher level, especially now that we are attracting foreign companies into this country.

  35. @The Scout: “Unions in Barbados are still in the 19th century, they MUST move to a much higher level, especially now that we are attracting foreign companies into this country.

    In your opinion, are stable Unions confrontational, or symbiotic, to their employers?

  36. Trade Unionism is an old archaic practice in this country.

    It served the masses fairly well from the 1930s right up to the 1980s in Barbados.

    Trade Unionism was hijacked by some members of the then middle classes during the 40s and 50s, coming right after the Right Excellent Clement Payne and many others had agitated in the 1930s for greater workers rights and the right to form trade unions in this country – Agitate, Educate, But Dont Violate.

    This hijacking had to do with a more moderating evolutionary approach to the way forward for the development of the affairs of the masses in the country, than with persistence with a revolutionary approach to such

    For, it was the Black Revolutionary Pan Africanists who laid much of the basis for the earlier development of Trade Unionism in Barbados. A good reading of Dr. Rodney Worrell’s book: Pan Africanism in Barbados: An Analysis of the Activities of the Major 20th Century Pan African Formations in Barbados, will help many individuals to understand this fact.

    But the reality is that with Pan Africanism, Trade Unionism, BLP/DLP politics losing significant hold on the broad masses of people in Barbados, there is a very strong case for very viable progressive people centered ideologies to to be exploited by the relevant people and to be used in furtherance of the greater empowerment and enfranchisement of the masses and middle classes of people in this country.


  37. @PDC… A simple question:

    When you achieve your goal of becoming the leaders of Barbados, and do everything you say you promise you will do…

    How will you buy anything from away?

    It is an honest question.

    Please answer.

  38. David

    At 5:21 you asked, “How do workers fight back or is it too late?”

    The answer is quite simple – JOIN UNITY WORKERS UNION!

  39. LOL
    I see Caswell ready to CUT SOME ASS…………..but did Onions not warn all about 2 weeks ago (LIME)…that all this shit go float to the Top…as these slackers see the indecisiveness that prevails …and READY TO TEST IT..
    Well you see for yourselves….

  40. @David
    “We would hope that Sir Roy would investigate the facts and, once he is satisfied that he has been mis-informed, would withdraw his uncalled for remarks.”

    let’s see.

  41. Apology, not from the Knight of Harmony Hall or the Duke of York , or whatever name he goes by. Never!

    • @Caswell

      Congrats on making it to the Business Authority!

      BTW have you heard the private sector is kicking up dust about how onerous the about to be enacted Employment Rights Bill will be on their businesses? Wasn’t the private sector part of the feedback process?

    • On the subject of the LIME dispute which seems to have flared up, did PM Stuart eve made a public statement that he had resolved the issue? Seem to recall it was Sir Roy who delegated the announcement to Stuart. Willing to be proved wrong. It will be interesting to hear the BWU’s statement.

  42. @ Prodigal
    Sir Roy apologies what……you mind these pack of cards….you believe that DI mangnt. man … given the state of this industrial climate ? I would bet my right hand is only because talk of police came in that ..he ran to the BCCI for shelter….When last you went in that store before ? I had a personal dealin g wid that man once….and I was not impressed. You see the tourists ain’t coming heads gotta roll..simple..Do you think he would say otherwise…ask yourself why the workers decided to seek joining the Union AT THIS TIME….The man

  43. Sir Roy may not have been 100% accurate in this instance; but foreign born employers in Barbados have not treated to Bajans fairly at all. Were I Sir Roy my response would be specific to the numbers fired and the reason if the original position could not be substantiated.

    Not all trade unions are relevant. The sad thing is, those that need to be scale back if not done away with, are headed by Unionists who seem to still have the fight in them, and this energy is the very thing that should be brought to bear on some of these foreign born business people in Barbados.

    Wish that it were possible to switch public sector union leadership with that of the private sector trade union, and scale back the need for BSTU, BUT, NUPW, etc. They are all serving very little purpose and making a lot of money on the taxpayers back. Bajan workers are being treated unfairly in the private sector, while Bajan workers are over-paid, and are not productive in the public sector; the respective Unions carry a lot of responsibility for these occurrences in both sectors.

    • In light of the responses and denials from BCCI and Diamonds International, Sir Roy cannot remain silent. This issue must not be allowed to blow away. If it can be shown that Sir Roy was not speaking the truth he would not only have brought the BWU into disrepute but he would have brought discredit to the entire trade union movement. Again if that were the case he should not wait to be pushed by his executive council: he should jump.

      Additionally, the reference to the national origin of the owner of Diamonds International is completely out of place, and as a senator, who is sworn to uphold the Constitution his actions are even more reprehensible. The Acting Governor-General should also take him out of his misery and declare his seat in the Senate vacant.

      National origin or race has nothing to do with how employers should behave. If any employer breaks the law he should suffer the consequences. I know of a black entrepreneur, whose business is supported by Government, who can only be described as the boss from hell. He has young people working under the most inhumane conditions and when they complain to him, he would say I did not send and call you: you came to me looking for a job and if you don’t like it you can go. His business use heavy machinery connected to long extension cords which run through pools of water when it rains. If the boys refuse to operate the machinery under those conditions, they are dismissed. Additionally, because of the nature of the business there is always the presence of rats. When he sets poison the rats would die and decay and the workers have to endure the stench or be fired. I know that BWU and the Labour Department are aware and yet there is no relief for those workers.

  44. @onions
    just heard the news too… something’s rotten in Denmark. Let’s hear Lime’s statement first… Private Sector also criticised the Employees Rights Bill and requested amendments. Seems like private sector bosses smelling blood in the water and going for the proverbial kill.

  45. old onions,
    How comes we have not heard a word of condemnation from the likes of Irene Sandiford Garner on women’s rights after the despicable way in which Donna Hunte Cox’s exit from NCF was handled?

    Mrs Sandiford Garner was all over the media saying she is a champion for women’s rights and how nasty the BLP was to move Mia Mottley as leader even though she knew it was done democratically. She had a role to talk. Now they have done it to Ms Hunte Cox, not a word and we have a DLP woman as the minister of Labour.Can you believe this? A woman also serves as minister of Foreign Affairs!

    It is wrong which ever government does it. Certainly a position like CEO of NCF in its contract, there would be a clause giving three months notice on either of a decision to renew or to terminate. The lady was treated with discourtesy to be handed a letter after four pm, what time did she had to clear her desk?

    The chairman would do well to remember that chairpersons dont last too long and what go around comes around. Ms Hunte Cox will have the last laugh.

  46. @ Prodi
    You forgetting Dr.Cox not from St.James South, St.Andrew or Sin John.
    Serious though they treat she too shabby….The good Dr. feeling really get hurt I hear…She did fighting tears…But I did always thought the lady politicians had each other backs. Irene said that the sisterhood did “TIGHT”
    Boy sign are wonders..signs are wonders…

    What ya make of this LIME thing? We now got AX, Di and LIME simmering..who next ?

  47. @BU.David: “…about to be enacted Employment Rights Bill will be on their businesses?

    One might reasonably wonder why the promised Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) didn’t come first.

    Oh… Of course….

    • @Chris

      The reason is probably Minister Suckoo needs something to hang her hat on with a campaign to be fought soon.

  48. @BU.David: “The reason is probably Minister Suckoo needs something to hang her hat on with a campaign to be fought soon.

    But how can they “hang their hat” on anything when they didn’t deliver on what they promised?

    FoIA. FoIA. FoIA. FoIA. FoIA. FoIA…

    It was promised.

    Why wasn’t it delivered?

    • @Chris

      But politicians promise all the time, it is what they do.

      In fact the origin of the word politician has its root in Latin which means…?

  49. Chris Halsall,

    You wrote in your May 2, 2012, 7:10 pm blog: “When you achieve your goal of becoming the leaders of Barbados, and do everything you say you promise you will do…

    How will you buy anything from away?

    It is an honest question.

    Please answer.”

    Chris, the answer is simple: by doing and creating some of the things that many people in Barbados and others have been doing and creating for years better and far more effeciently at the lowest costs possible, and coming up with some newer very effecient more modernized processes to help produce world class items and services to help earn precious foreign exchange for the country.

    The will still be exports coming out of Tourism, Agriculture, Manufacturing, International Business, etc.

    By a future PDC Government removing Taxation, Interests Rates, Institutional Repayable Loans for Productive Purposes, by its Reducing Institutional Debt to the lowest levels possible, reducing the Cost of Use Of Money to the lowest levels possible, by making exports paid for in local currency/”prices”, by making imports into Barbados zero-“priced” at all points of entry, by Abolishing ALL exchange Rates Parities with the Barbados Dollar, et al, will impact most positively on the productive and distributive sectors in the country, and thus make sure that Barbados becomes more competitive and enterprising in the international political economy.


  50. David; Yes, that’s my recollection also. The PM as usual said nothing, not even a disclaimer that the matter was solved. There was also no statement that I saw coming from the Lime side. Trotman looks as if he’s in deep doo doo with this matter also, following the Royal Shop, Sandy Lane and perhaps a few others. The agreement that Sir Roy hinted at always looked suspect.

    Once again, this matter suggests that the PM should think long and hard before stepping into any industrial situations, especially Private Sector ones over which his office have minimal direct leverage, without the foreknowledge that his minions had already solved the situation leaving him only to look good for the Cameras.

    Re. Sir Roy; Maybe its time for him to take up his well earned retirement, rather than leading the BWU into oblivion.

  51. @PDC: “…by making imports into Barbados zero-”priced” at all points of entry, by Abolishing ALL exchange Rates Parities with the Barbados Dollar, et al,

    Let’s run a thought experiment…

    Provide 1000 Bajans with a single tomato each for no cost.

    Prove that you can do this, and you might get some votes.

  52. @chris
    What freedom of information? we get promised that one recently??? all the talk is about integrity integrity integrity

    • As far as the FOIA goes isn’t there the opportunity for Senator Orlando Marville to speak to the issue even it is to voice disappointment?

  53. @BU.David: “But politicians promise all the time, it is what they do.

    quod politici iusti cognoscitur mentiri non habere non dicit quod promittunt electorate

  54. David
    The less you speak of Senator Marville the better. Government compromised him : he is an independent senator for crying out loud. He should not have accepted any assignment from Government. His slip is showing.

    • @Caswell

      Why would you suggest that Marville should withhold his service/expertise?

      He should come out as an Independent Senator and give us a position on it.

      He is a Senator and he should not renege on his role as an advocate for the people in the Upper Chamber.

  55. Chris,

    We are at this moment hoping that you are not trivializing that particular strategy.

    What we are saying here is that the Ports of entry will have substantial autonomy to charge importers – on the basis of prevailing market conditions generally – for services provided to them (importers) as a result of the general costs incurred (adminstration/transaction) by the Ports of Entry.


  56. @PDC: “What we are saying here is that the Ports of entry will have substantial autonomy to charge importers

    But, if there is no cost of money, then the money is valueless.

    You have studied economics in school.


    • @observing

      One id left to wonder after reading the Nation report why the BWU had to strike over a matter which required a simple clarification. Would it not make sense to strike after the clarification was given to confirm the difference in interpretation?

  57. Who is it in the press that calls on me?
    I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
    Cry “Caesar!” Speak, Caesar is turn’d to hear.
    Beware the ides of March.

  58. I am wondering and I hope that I am wrong but I keep thinking that Sir. Roy might be using the situation at LIME to wipe the egg off his face that he got from Diamonds International.

  59. @oob: “Beware the ides of March.

    Or, in the original, “Ἀπόδοτε οὖν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ τῷ Θεῷ

  60. @Chris Halsall (the Roman)
    Friends Romans countrymen…lend me thy ears

    I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted,
    or if it was, not above once; for the play, I remember, pleas’d not
    the million, ’twas caviare to the general. But it was, as I receiv’d it
    —and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in the top of
    mine—an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down
    with as much modesty as cunning.

    CHRIS YA OLE DOG……tief my thunda

  61. @caswell
    Sir Roy got more egg to wipe

    one really is left to wonder. The entire company shut down over a “misinterpretation” in a letter written by the “PM” after “marathon negotiations”

    And wunna really feel AX gine be as straightforward as a Commission? sigh.

  62. And Observing; a misinterpretation on 2 clauses that were subject to further negotiations. Nobody has indicated that negotiations on these clauses were either started or completed but we do know that the PM has been very busy at meetings / functions outside of Barbados over the past few weeks.

    Why indeed would Sir Roy call a strike in these circumstances? or was it a wildcat strike? We need to hear both the Gen Sec and the PM’s sides of the story.

  63. quotation from above ‘Sir Roy has threatened to shut the country down if the foreign owned entity does not review it position. Caswell Franklyn who heads Unity Trade Union and veteran trade unionist has suggested Sir Roy should escalate the matter to the police – Barbados Underground’

    Stupid. It is the mouthings of the idiot Roy Trotman that should be reported and escalated to international rights organisation, the context of the ‘Egyptian Jew’ reference is a racial slur, pure and simple.

    He shoudl resign. Playing to the crowd, raising racial tenstions so that he SEEMS to remain relevant.

    No, he is an irrelevant jackass.

  64. Most of the writers above went on hearsay and not facts, inflammatory, excitable rubbish. We also do not need an Employment Rights Bill, after another year or two there will not be much employment.

  65. Chris

    I was saying that the matter that Sir. Roy complained about would amount to a criminal offence and suggesting that there would be no need to shut down the country if someone had indeed committed a criminal offence. As far as I am aware you still report crime to the police and that would have been all that he was required to do.

  66. @All…

    Just for the record, the person posting as “Chris” is not me.

    Not that I have an exclusive claim on the name of course. Just wishing to be clear.

  67. per thhe nation quting Little Man Trotman, “If I have said something that has offended anyone, show me where the offence is; when I see the offence, I am big enough to apologize for it,” he said.

    “I never set out to offend anyone, I never offended anyone, and therefore, there is nothing for me to be bothered about, but people take offence when none is given.”

    Is this jackass for real? He cannot see where he has offended? Tlell that to the many people worldiwde reading about this racial slur from the ‘Union Boss’ in Barbados.

    Bad enough the ratings agencies on our backs, not an idiot has to use racial slurs to make foreign investors run even further.

    One would think a bajan would know better. Bajans work everywhere including alongside Jewish people. Bajans should know that bigotry can attack them too and respect the moral that treating others with respect and dignity is a necessity, not just a moral right.

    But no, no he. Seriously, is he going senile, or just feeling irrelevant?

  68. “Trade Unionism is an old archaic practice in this country”
    and what are your views on political institutions? i think they too have outlived their usefulness.

  69. “Now they have done it to Ms Hunte Cox, not a word and we have a DLP woman as the minister of Labour”
    This behaviour by DLP operatives against women is nothing new. They have a reputation of doing it to their own.Where was the voice of Senator Irene when Ms Rice-Bowen was demonised for raising contractual issues when she was chairman of the NHC. Remenber Mr Barrow promised to teach Mrs Gertz Eastmond the facts of life and poor Carmeta food first efforts were never really embraced by the party at the height of its power otherwise Barbados might have been further in this regard. Sometimes i wonder how a person of Maizie Welch’s integritywho have championed the cause of women in other forum can sit in the corridors of power of the DLP over the years and condone this anti-women behaviour. The promotion of women in the DLP in recent times has been a knee-jerk response to the BLP’s willingnes to push women to the top of the ladder.

  70. @balance

    but nothing tops the cake when the chief cook and bottle washer of the BLP cat spraddled the one woman who would have been and inspiration to female woman that the glass ceiling was cracked if only OSA had allowed Mia to fulfilled the dream of attempting to become the first Female PM of barbados what a let down to woman. a prize that even the DLP would have found hard to criticize.

    • @ac
      We have had this discussion before, Arthur could not have become leader of the opposition without the support of his parliamentary colleagues. In other words they preferred him over Mia in the same way the DLP preferred Thompson over Mascoll.

  71. Bajan word lesson for those overseas:

    Anyone who was wondering the relevance of the cussword Rihanna referred to and why she was spot on, here is an example.

    You caould not want a better example of what the word means, how it is used in practice. This is the essence of the word.

    Here it is:

    1) Roy Trotman is a XXXX.

    2) De Man acting like a xxxx.

    3) Wait bosie, he is a XXXX?

    4) He like he is a XXXX!

    There you go, that is why Rihanna was very accurate, a perfect example.

  72. Morning all.
    Clearly the lines have been drawn.
    DI, AX, Employment RIghts Bill, the Private Sector Association, the BCCI, LIME,, BWU, The Prime Minister, BSTU, Jones, Sinckler, Neal and Massy, Deloitte… Makes for an interesting year. (for the opposition that is).

  73. @ Prodigal

    This is the same government and Minister (don’t forget Stephen Lashley was the unofficial defender) that 3 weeks ago were in Parliament supporting employees’ rights.

  74. Perhaps I’m jumping the gun here, as usual, but is it possible that we are again seeing an example of prime ministerial procrastination. An example that might become clear for all to see unlike all the other ones which the Eager 11 might have used in their justification for meeting with the PM in December and turning around the trajectory of the Government. Should the Eager 11 wheel and turn and come again?

  75. @ Not that Chris
    Tell us why you have not taken up matters as YET , and do you think chances look even better now given all this…?.

  76. Statements from our “leading” trade unionist…..Sir Roy

    “I never set out to offend anyone, I never offended anyone, and therefore, there is nothing for me to be bothered about, but people take offence when none is given.”

    Now, who determines whether an offence has been done? The offender or the offendee….Sad days are coming ahead….

    Just observing, not offending.

  77. @ David
    They were under no obligations to renew her contract, I am talking about the way in which it was done.

  78. @ David
    …. So to be clear
    We are now saying that it is OK for an employer to dismiss workers who seek to organize themselves into a trade union…?

    ..if we are NOT saying thus, then why are we upset that Sir Roy is upset?

    What do we propose that his response should be if not outrage..?(forget Caswell’s court suggestion- LOL we have dealt with that approach before…)

    In short, the Duke is behaving exactly as would be expected of a leader whose very organization is threatened with extinction…

    ….perhaps the real haters are those now trying to characterize a bajan patriarch (whether you like him or not) of racism… Now THAT is a joke

  79. @bush Tea

    Indeed some hard questions have to be asked of the Grand Ole Duke of Orke who heads our largest and most dominant trade union. In face you should take it further and question the BWU Executive.

  80. Were 20 people fired without due process after attending a shop steward’s meeting?
    Would’nt Sir Roy’s righteous anger be acceptable if the above were true?
    Were only 7 people fired with due process and with the process starting before the shop steward’s meeting?
    Is an “Egyptian Jew” an endearing term?
    Would we expect a bajan patriach to know if the term egyptian jew spoken in anger could possibly elicit a negative response?
    Is it possible that there was provocation on someone’s part?

  81. Based on what is in today’s press there is no way LIME, BWU and PM should be unaware of what is being disputed i.e the wage increase is contingent on both sides agreeing to a flexi work week.

  82. @David
    To be back here again is almost shameful. But, then again, BSTU were back there recently too. Is there a common thread anyone???

  83. Observing, re your 9:39 post; I don’t think David is prepared to make the obvious connection at this time.

  84. @David
    We could suggest no such thing. but have to admit, the swirl of “issues” doesn’t seem to be abating anytime soon.

  85. “but nothing tops the cake when the chief cook and bottle washer of the BLP cat spraddled the one woman who would have been and inspiration to female woman that the glass ceiling was cracked if only OSA had allowed Mia to fulfilled the dream of attempting to become the first Female PM of barbados what a let down to woman. a prize that even the DLP would have found hard to criticize”
    do not shed too much crocodile tears for miss mottley ac, she is the best out of a rather poor lot in parliament and her time will come provided she plays her political cards correctly within the context of the shenanigans of the poltical game. The gang of five will be dismantled in the process of time and as sir brandford pointed out those presently holding ministerial office do not worth much.

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