Recently the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Dale Marshall, accused the National Union of Public Workers of playing politics. That caused me to reflect on the state of trade union representation in this country and wonder if the accusation was true for other unions. A comparison of the roles played by the unions during different political administrations would suggest that Marshall had justifiable reasons to come to his conclusion. During the DLP administration, you tend to get the impression that unions are bending over backward to accommodate the Government. When the BLP is in office, unions tend to be a bit more active which can be attributed to the fact that most union leaders appear to favour the DLP.
From inception workers have been complaining that the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) has not been acting in the best interest of workers, and that it has been used to keep workers quiet while the employers and Government, as the other members of the so called Social Partnership, gained at the expense of the workers. The list below which speaks for itself represents most of the major actors who played pivotal roles in the formation and continued existence of CTUSAB, and others who were active in their individual unions:
|Cedric Murrell||Chairman, Constituency Council/ Chief Air Traffic Control Officer|
|Walter Maloney||Constituency Council Member/ Senior Manager at NHC|
|Joseph Goddard||Ambassador to United Nations|
|Bobby Morris||Ambassador to Caricom|
|Ronald Jones||Minister of Education|
|Harry Husbands||Parliamentary Secretary|
|Karen Best||Deputy Chief Education Officer|
|Derek Alleyne||Director, UDC on four years’ leave from NUPW|
|Dennis Depeiza||Seconded from teaching to CTUSAB|
|Jeff Broomes||Principal, Alexandra School|
|Hartley Reid||Retired/ DLP General Council|
|Keith Yearwood||Retired/ BLP; made redundant and not paid his pension|
This list is by no means exhaustive but to the cynical among us it speaks volumes. This is not to say that that any person mentioned did anything underhanded, and was subsequently rewarded for their betrayal of the workers. It might very well be a case of the squeaky wheel getting the grease.
It is clear that only a small group of workers benefitted from the formation of the congress