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. After several years of the Draft Employment Rights Bill making the rounds now we get the debate in the public domain when it is ABOUT to be enacted!

    The private sector agency has been kicking up a fuss but to be expected no a word from the Unions.

  2. Could this be the private sector’s (LIME Incld.) way of showing their subtle non committal to this administration ?

  3. can any one tell me what is a contract? A contract has a beginning and and end. No one is obligated to renew a contract, and therefore Mrs. Hunte Cox knows or should have known that as long as there was no prior discusision about its renewal as the ending was drawing near that it would not have been renewed.
    I had heard about three months ago that she was not allowed to sit at board meetings, unless called by the Chairman and deducted that her end was near, she should have been looking for a job and should have had one lined up to coincide with the ending of her contract.

  4. Hey Blogger
    Man what you sayin ? Respect due to a dog..4.00 pm handed a letter and told to exit stage right..nah man pissin poor even for a fractured Govt.
    Look we all know the Chairman cuz she is Brandford taitt daughter… position went to she head …but wha ? Man class is class…we expect better from her….dat was just down right NASTY…..I would have gone back up stairs and PISS on the desk……fa reaaaaaaaaaaaal den
    TAKE DAT >>>>lol!

  5. @Old onion

    I exspect that beviour from someone like u. AS long as Mrs. Cox was given her contract gratuity at the end of her tenure then the obligations of the contract were fulfilled.

    I look at this matter from the contractual obligation. Had it been me, i would have love to know that my contract would not have been renewed, but then again i would have read between the lines long ago.

    Both parties, blp and dlp have not nenewed contracts while in office. Did you agree with how the hospital four were treated, they were not contract employees, they were public officers. They were handed a letter at the end of their work day.

  6. only in small caribbean islands would these corrupt corporate giants take advantage of poor people. In the first place these outrageous over due back wages should not have gone on so long so one can blame the unions too for not flexing their muscles earlier and standing up for the workers. i mean Corporate Giants like Lime got this attitude that it is them who are doing the favours and the workers should put up or shut and the Unions let this shite go by until it is too late .

  7. @ Blogger 2012
    Play u conveniently miss my point……I ent against ending the contract..IS THE WAY was done with all the toilet paper…sticking to shoes…..after all woman …..The way it was done really deserve a pokie funnel

    The QEH 4 were given days upon days notice…it was kicked all bout in the media for weeks before they were handed walking papers ! Not so with the NCF good doctor.

  8. @Onion

    you dont have to give notice that u r not renewing a contract, cut out the sentimentality

  9. Blogger
    Are you a female lawyer by chance ?( Verla I would wish)….who said anything about the need to give notice as relevancy to NCF dismissal or QEH ?

    My reference to ” being informed”….. was that their positions were being discussed in the public lime light for sometime..prior to being kicked to the curb.

  10. No Union should have been that lenient with LIME> These mmdddr F ‘s don’t have no pity on customers pocket . they not about hearing excuses from customers . but when it comes to paying the employee the rules are different man Sir Roy you should have unleashed a million pit bulls on LIME long ago. these people only understand action no word of mouth don;t move them to them workers are reusable

  11. @onions

    If i were to accept your thesis statment about the press, i would ask u one question were they employed by he press, and to counter pudding souse hinted that Mrs. Cox contract would not have been renewed. Go come again.

  12. @onions
    i thought better of u. the qeh staff were not charged of anything, kiz thompson used her politcal influence to have them sent home for no just cause. Please, for ur sake know somethng of what u speak and stop speaking from the hips, like a gunster.

  13. @AC

    i with u on this one, lime because of it economic clout and contributions to the politcal parties around elction time believe that it must make the biggest return for its shareholders from its caribbean operatons.

  14. Press in puddin n souse…? Charges on QEH worker ? Did I say these things…woman you got me ?
    What D f ya talkin bout..ya loss me….so much for putting words in ones mouth…thought better of me ? I put it to you…you lawyers are all alike….making somethings from nothings…and taking of poor people’s money .. crass. ( you could never be Verla).

  15. The Lime strike is ended.

    Read the article on Tonight’s Barbados Today. Sir Roy made some puzzling statements in wrapping up the matter. The PM had to clarify some (committments / statements/ agreements?) today that he had made at the earlier meeting in order to break this current deadlock, statements that were clear to Sir Roy but yet both he and Lime had asked for clarification. Probably a reporter’s mistake.

  16. i hope that the workers don;t give in to this shit ……and sir Roy although late stand you ground. i see today that sir roy say Lime has stiffled the negotiations proceess with this talk about the workers being committed to working on Sunday and all that bulll….sht talk trying to stall against paying the workers three years is a long time and LIME should be ashamed of trying to STEAL the workers money

  17. Many here talking about Foreign born businesses treating their workers badly, but what happened to local born businesses treating dem workers stink stink. I wish we would stop playing games and stupid talk about boycotting businesses because they had to lay off people. Boycotting will only harm the remaining workers there. More and more businesses will be laying off workers soon and WHAT can the Union do about that? Not one shoite! If all the foreign born businesses were to leave Barbados we would be up shoite street. We depend on these businesses whether we like it or not it is a fact of life. We have to create a comfortable atmosphere where businesses can operate. The bottom line is profitability and that is why they are in business. What the unions should instill in their members is that a good day’s work deserves a good day’s pay and that too far north is south.

  18. Blogger 2012
    You would like to contort tings as much as you like….but I still am sticking to’ my guns’..that is …you handled it like the lady from the video….with no class..that you can’t recall now…classly would have used class ! Bull shit your personals on Onions…you no match in that Dept either.

  19. @ island gal

    All what you say is True except that in reality it does not work like that. Yes Barbados needs good business investors but we cannot let them violate the rights of the workers with impossible demands and unpaid wages . When governments let these business operate it is understood that they have to follow rules and guidlines that affect the workers however some of these business finds loopholes which would allow them to bend the rules in their favour therfore a single voice for the workers is needed and that is why the validity of a Workers UNion comes into play as the voice which seeks to protect the worker from unscrupulous employees whose only interest is the bottom line and the workers right be damned


  21. @island girl

    So AC why did it take so long for government to raise the minimum wage! Good question

    Understand that underneath this is the “ONE HAND WASHES THE OTHER policy” OR THE HIDDEN AGENDAS OF THE POLITICIAN. ALSO all the promises made to these investors in order to get the business most of which would have overshadow the rights of the worker in favour of the rights of the employerand getting their business and the government of the day in there reckless and vision-less way overlooked the employees rights to garnish favour for these business hence it took a new government after 14years of a government who played footloose and fancy free to the whims of big business to herald the rights of the Employee! . However slow in coming it has come and that the workers must be thankful for but i must say 14 years too long

  22. DIAMONDS INTERNATIONAL in tasteless effort to demonise SIR ROY TROTMAN pulled out the RACE CARD! how pitiful!

  23. Diamonds international should be ashamedof it self the bajans not stupid and Sir Roy is aware of how most of these companies use uncanny methods of firing their workers and as a watch dog for the employee he was right to sound the alarm no matter who it offends these companies have been spoiled over the years by previous government and now there are being held for accountability there are screaming bloody murder and acting as if one no should say anything about there way of treating the employee. Sir Roy is on a roll and should not stop NOW! Years of discrimination by companies like Diamond must Stop /Pulling out the Race Card is worthless and it speaks to the method of how Companies like Diamond treat its workers.Nobody is body the RACE CARD ACT

    • Some understand the use of language meant to intimidate by Sir Roy but all must agree that the racial slur was uncalled for in a scenario where employers in Barbados seem to have good grounds to send home workers because of slow sales and failing balance sheets in recent years.

      Request a meeting and based on the outcome then there are grounds to get aggressive. One wonders to what extent this incident shows how impotent the executives of these bodies are in shaping strategy/approach etc. Same with the credit unions.


    there is discrimination of black people all over the world and it would continue to be so until black people love and respect themselves and stop discriminating against each othe.r

  25. @ balance

    Come on balance! there is is one of wunna in every bucket! There are several forms of discrimination some of which were intentional and others for survival. Blacks don’t own much of the weath so for you to insert ” black discrimination” against each other is ludicrous. most of the time blacks play the game the way they have been taught as a way for survival while whites game plan is to get rich by any means necessary

  26. I stand with SIR ROY Diamonds response to Sir ROY comments was predicatable. And most people would have never given a thought to it .

  27. @ ac
    However slow in coming it has come and that the workers must be thankful for but i must say 14 years too long
    You need to qualify that…you mean those who their bosses did not SEND HOME….report of the evil fanged vultures retaliatory measures are many…
    Imago…from $200-250…..

  28. The PDC is just doing a bit of catching up at the moment.

    But to Chris Halsall, this is our last comment to you under this thread.

    You type wrote in your May 3, 2012, 8:53 pm post: “@PDC: “What we are saying here is that the Ports of entry will have substantial autonomy to charge importers.”

    And then you stated,”But, if there is no cost of money, then the money is valueless.”

    You have studied economics in school.

    Where did you see us any where on this blogsite or elsewhere for that matter say that there is no cost of money, as you seem to suggest??

    Or as if you think you are contradicting us or we ourselves viz our stating above that Ports of entry will have substantial autonomy to charge importers (exporters too) expenses (money) for services rendered there in.?

    Because we know that money has an inherent objective digitized value ( cost) – 1 c, 5 c, 10 c, 25 c, $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100, there is no possibility of us saying, ever having said anywhere on here or elsewhere that money has no cost.

    What we have for sometime been promulgating is the cost of USE of money theory/practice, which is totally different from what you wrongly attributed to us that there is no cost of money.

    Under a future PDC government arrangement, Ports of entry in Barbados shall have substantial autonomy to charge importers (exporters too) expenses (money) for Port (air/sea) services rendered there in.

    Finally, economics as an ideology, discipline, on the whole, is one of the evil banes/antitheses of growth and development for countries like ours.

    Much of economics is trash.

    And we are seeing it daily in Barbados in so many ways.


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