Barbados Water Authority Cannot Strike!

Water is a precious resource.

Water is a precious resource.

The 780 employees currently employed by the BWA represent 8.2 employees per 1,000 services which are high by industry standards and speak to the historic tendency to use this organization as a source of employment.

The Late Prime Minister David Thompson delivered this address to BWA employees on 17 June 2009 to explain his expectations after implementing a 60% water rate hike.

Some contributors to BU are of the view the Barbados Water Authority should be an essential service. BU is also of the view that in the prevailing economic climate there should be consequences for the BWA going on strike. We are NOT operating in a business as usual period in our history. Certain services must be guaranteed!

The Better Security Act of Barbados was established to better secure “an uninterruptable supply of water and light for the use of the community, and for preventing certain avoidable dangers to human life and valuable property”.

Is this Act relevant given the current impasse between the government and the BWA? If it is not should it be?

See Better Security Act I, II (Credit to Caswell Franklyn)

Let debate the real issues.

48 thoughts on “Barbados Water Authority Cannot Strike!

  1. So wait if the 60 % increase was to update BWA infrastructure..i.e new pipes laid…. (and by the way the increase in Road Tax to $ 400 was to pay off SSS)….why in the case of BWA..,and nothing was done…. give us back our money then….on parallel Road Taxes need to come back down to $240…..SSS has been paid ….not true?….Question is where was the money spent?

  2. David

    The major problem in this country that there are too many laws that are more honoured in the breach than in the observance. The Better Security Act is one such piece of legislation. I became aware of this Act while listening to a speech by Sir Roy Trotman. I then went and read it. Sir Roy is therefore acutely aware of the law that is why, during this impasse, he is careful to say that the supply of water won’t be interrupted.

    If you read the press release from the BWA, you would get the impression that they are afraid of the big bad wolf.

  3. Didn’t Thompson say the $400 …(66.67% increase) Road Taxes would be temporary…18 months at most?…Imagine SUv tax $801…BMW $901….Dodge Ram $3600…. and the highest I have seen on a US import $3800….some just don’t understand that while some big ride owners (businessmen) can find the taxes via passing on to the small man….at the end of the day it is the small man feeling the full impact….at least the $400 could be brought down to $240 as promised.

  4. The problem with “going on strike” – when normally you don’t do one shiite anyhow, ….is that people may come to realize that you are really permanently on strike.
    Leaks take months to fix when they are at work AND when they are on strike…. In fact, if repairs were to be contracted out to private plumbers under BWA supervision we would probably see a MAJOR improvement.
    …perhaps this strike is an opportunity…..

    What the hell are they striking for again?…….at a time when Government must SURELY be looking for people to send home…..???

    Somebody smoking some sh$&e

    • Bush Tea

      There is this very significant project, IDB funded, to relay old mains. The BWU and BWA cannot agree how to support it. Outsource to contractors, who from all reports have the required equipment to do the job or pay BWA workers while the contractors are doing the job. In fact let us stop there and admit we are confused too.

  5. BT
    What the hell are they striking for again?…….at a time when Government must SURELY be looking for people to send home…..???
    Bushie Govt can’t touch a fella…… wha um is now, eh ..essential service remember? Besides in addition to allowing people to be hungry nowadays….ya want them to smell stink and be thirsty too……man like you want a riot.

  6. I called BWA to fix a leak which occurred before the meter
    They assured me that it would be a long wait probably a year

  7. BTW
    What the hell are they striking for again?…….at a time when Government must SURELY be looking for people to send home…..???

    Very Insensitive of you BT
    very insensitive
    you now start to live
    why not give
    some empathy
    love is the key
    Bush Tea !
    Your attidude shows insensitivity
    to another degree
    who feels it knows it
    You aint feeling so you dont know shit
    You make mock sport at serious business
    Yuh need to stop the stupidness

  8. @ Yagga
    ….MOCK SPORT Shiite…..
    Bushie serious as a judge (not the Bajan variety… A REAL Judge)

    All wunna so think that life is a joke……
    That every body can do as they like – with NO consequences …because “cuh dear ah feel fuh them…..”

    Wunna going find out….

    There was a SPECIAL reason why we enjoyed the levels of peace and success that we have over the past 50 years….. It had NOT ONE SHOITE to do with any outstanding abilities that we displayed…. IT was a special, unique BLESSING!!!
    That mission has been accomplished. JOB DONE!

    …don’t try and find some true leaders ….
    Don’t try and abandon the jokers currently misleading wunna….

    …wunna going SEE what insensitive REALLY looks like….

  9. It was a blessing you say
    But we know it was a docile people coming out of slavery
    being controlled and told what to do
    Being provided for with–food housing and clothes although meagre
    Thats what it was
    Dont get tie up
    Bush Tea
    Learn History
    Bush Tea
    Roots without a tree
    Bush without roots
    lol lol

  10. @ David
    There is this very significant project, IDB funded, to relay old mains. The BWU and BWA cannot agree how to support it…..
    Tell the HONEST truth D!
    What would you do if you were in charge of a situation where the VITAL water system had 60% leakage….costing MILLIONS per year.

    You tax every man jack and arrange funding to address this CRITICAL problem, and the HIGHLY EDUCATED people at BWA (who now getting a BRAND NEW headquarters) and the BWU talking shiite bout “who is to benefit from this project” while the Nation goes to the dogs……?

    .you won’t crack some heads and shoot some brass bowls too….? 🙂

    • @Bush

      If in charge of BWA here are the 3 strategic priorities:

      1. 5 to 10 year plan to achieve a leakage rate of less than 5%

      2: 3 to 5 year plan to convert to alternative energy as primary

      3. Renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement to share profit based on cost savings derived from #1 and 2.

  11. …and WHEN (not IF) they fail to meet these targets then what…?
    Boss man…!
    …yuh STILL got to crack some heads and shoot some fellows….

  12. Who the hell these water works lazy folks think they are? They lazy around all day until after hours to start then to earn over time. They have milked the cow dry already and now lean times are here. Every soul has to cut and contrive. I am not in support of any foolish strike and as a member of the BWU I will not be joining any blind strike. Country first

  13. @ David
    Your optimism never ceases to amaze….. (Careful yuh – dey ain’t much difference between that and naivety hear?)

    …you are YET to come to grips with the nature of the forces against which we would need to battle…. THE FIGHT IS NOT AGAINST FLESH AND BLOOD……

  14. Bush Tea
    You are advocating a very stupid subject, the climate in Barbados is very edgy and about to get worse. In a few short weekes ( maybe just after christmas or in the new calender year) there are goingg to be some serious adjustment in civil servantss employment in this country and it will not go down well. One of the things that cause this government to be back in power is the promise that civil servants will not go home, now this same government is about to reverse that promise. Privitisation will sdoon follow.

  15. Unless or until this government comes clean with the people and tell them the truth, everyone is going to be at nerves edge not knowing if they have a job or not. This means workers will not be motivated and production levels will continue to fall.There are some government workers that have not been paid for three to four months yet have to report for work every day

  16. @ June Boy
    Everybody dun kno come January …Phase II of the cut back measures start ……bout 10,000 civil servants lookin for holes, ask Walter Backpocktier…..mostly the election brought on workers…..sad part there is also a Phase III….then D marches start….Jones dun tell we bout D batons and boots…..they telling you things in intervals

  17. The Better Security Act, or the Plantation Watchman Code, was brought about to ensure that those residing in Strathclyde, Belleville, Navy Gardens,Plantations and great houses across the island and like communities would be guaranteed, uninterrupted Electric,Water, Gas and Street light services,(and at times, Police Service )
    This Act did not take into consideration the tenantries and villages, the inhabitants of which , had to depend ,in the first instance to springs, then stand pipes. It took many many years for villages in the countryside to be electrified, although the electricity supply which ran across country and gullies, from plantation to plantation,was within a few spans from these villages.
    To use the Better Security Act today against workers in this country, would be like re-employing red skin watchmen with big sticks to stop Bajans from traversing some of the above mentioned communities after 6pm.

  18. To give the BWA workers their due, one Sunday Morning my neighbour woke up to find that the water main into the community was burst and spewing thousands of gallons of water.She made to call to BWA,and was put through to a supervisor, who promised that he would visit in about 20 minutes. He was there in 15. The work crew followed,and in 90 minutes the job was completed.
    Lets not paint them all with the same tar brush.

    • David

      Without using those words, BWA is an essential service. Remember, a rose by any other name is just as sweet. Don’t get caught up with names.


  19. @Caswell Franklyn In 1876, the abortive efforts of the British to bring Barbados into confederation with the Windward Islands resulted in the “confederation riots.1937 – Outbreak of riots in response to poor economic conditions; British Royal Commission sent in to investigate conditions; Barbados Labour Party (BLP) founded by Grantley Adams.

  20. @ David | November 25, 2013 at 6:44 PM |
    “Should the BWA be classified an essential service, this is the question.”

    If there is one utility that is a genuine Essential Service it has to be the BWA.
    If there is no adequate supply of water there is no good public health, no proper public transport, no economic activity to generate income and taxation.

    It’s time also for it to be brought under the regulatory framework of the FTC and 40 % to 49% of the business sold to the public in the form of shares to the credit unions and individuals who must be resident in Barbados.

    • Miller

      You have not been paying attention. In 2009 the BWA was placed under the regulatory framework of the FTC. This outlaw government ignored the law and illegally raised the water rates by 60%.


  21. All this talk has been fairly interesting, but has not zeroed in on an essential question: Will the BWU really call out its alleged 25,000 members to join in industrial action in support of the BWA division?
    Sir Roy has referred to starting at 25,000, which implies that he has even more members to call on. This is the same statement he made in relation to Cable & Wireless strikes, Port strikes, when BWU was a CTUSAB member. His mind is telling “his self” that he still has that support. What “self” needs to tell Trotman is that at most, based on the BWU’s financial statements for the year 2012-2013, he can call on his apparent 15,000 members.

    This claim to a membership of 25,000 members which also raised its head in relation to that CTUSAB/ILO thing, is based on the level of membership dues BWU pays to the International Trade Union Confederation. The ITUC is the body that put forward a case on behalf of the BWU against the government of Barbados. The ITUC’s action was based on the false impression it has of BWU’s membership, which is based on the amount it dues BWU pays to them.

    • The Thing is…..

      Please allow me to assist you.

      According to the Financial Statements of the BWU for the year ended December 31, 2012 that union received $4,723,221 in dues. Each member pays $312 per annum in dues. A simple calculation tells me that BWU had 15,138 members. If Trotman would lie about that, why would you anything else that he says. Could Trotman account for the missing 10,000 members.


  22. Methinks this BWA/BWU impasse would be much ado about nothing as the nothingless press release from the BWA implies in addition to the usual BWU verbiage of ‘troop pulling out threats’ and ‘treating of the matter’ and ‘going into high gear’ and eventually into low gear petering out into ‘nothinness’ after placing undue stress on those who do not understand the game. Would not be surprised if the wicket is not about to be laid to once again allow Mr Stuart to employ his new found labour relations skills only to emerge smelling like a rose.

    • Balance

      You are see the ball as big as a breadfruit. I don’t know how long Barbadians will allow themselves to be fooled by Trotman’s brand of industrial relations. We saw the same thing during Arthur’s 14 years in office. Trotman would whip up a storm in a teacup, refuse all attempts to settle and then the PM would come in and magically bring the parties together, sometimes with the same proposals that were already on the table.


  23. @ Caswell

    If you only had heard that man on Monday morning cussing staff (BWU’s) to get them to go and show solidarity support with the BWA division. He made it clear that he will be taking no more of this sick leave foolishness in 2014 that he took in 2013.

    And the guess what? He had d balls to whip out a Goddard’s Attendance policy that he cussed about and made threats over, stating that he intends to use it as BWU’s own from 2014 onwards. Is this an admission that Hunte’s thinking is needed back at BWU?

  24. The problem is the GS of the BWU uses his office to play politics in Barbados just like everyone else. The BWU want a good audit.
    He talking about increments and for 20 years no Barbadian, born or naturalized, flew on the BA Concorde than him.

  25. @ Back in Time Jack
    They are audited every year before Annual conference.

    Do you mean audited in terms of how the $300,000.00 grant from government for labour education gets spent? Or the over $100,000.00 he claims in travel allowance per annum? Or the $800,000.00 spent on changing tiles and permaclad at the labour college last year? Or the $2,000,000.00 paid for the swamp land at the other side of the road in Harmony Hall? Or the dozens of members who got messed up with the thrice failed housing project from which they can recover no money because somebody insisted on using their theifing relatives as building contractors?

    Oh come on, Audit for what? You should be proud to know a bajan who owns a chateau in Switzerland.

  26. observed that bad light has stopped play and as sure as night followeth day the game will soon be called off with the inevitable tie the result until we await the playing of another charade to keep the duke of York in the spotlight at the expense of principle.

  27. Sorry David.

    That the normal kind of financial audit by PWC is done annually but still no one asks the searching questions that need to be asked of a “public” institution. There are just too many white elephants that people tip toe around and try to ignore.
    There is too much corruption there which although visible through the way things are done, is still not confronted.

    • Thanks for the clarification. We have seen how the role of the external auditor has largely gone under the radar in the CLICO mess. What can we expect as far as the NIS Scheme audit underway?

  28. @ David
    ..don’t play you don’t understand what de aiees saying…. As Bushie has been saying for YEARS now; THIS IS THE ISSUE that needs to be resolved in Barbados……INTEGRITY and TRANSPARENCY.

    The Auditor General has detailed the multiple areas of CROOKERY in government EACH and EVERY year – and not one shiite happens…

    We keep hearing about the NUPW and not one shiite happens….

    Caswell DETAILED the shenanigans with the PW Credit Union and their David Thompson led CLICO buyout……nothing….

    The BCA and BOA spends $20 million LOTTO dollars every year and there is NO sports infrastructure in place, No sporting success, NO public accounting….yet the SAME people are there for 20 years….

    It seems that our EVERY INSTITUTION is mired in this level of secrecy and dishonesty…

    ….and wunna wonder why this place turning into shit?

    Sorry David….
    UM is ALL up to you and BU now….

    Barbados Underground Audit Investigations Report.

  29. The Grand Ole Duke of York must know when to close his innings. Tendulkar has said goodbye at the helm of his exploits. It is easy to go from mystery to misery. Ask Narine. It is also very simple to slip from famous to notorious. Ask Sanford. It is even far easier to move from relevant to obscure here in Barbados. Ask Arthur and Dottin. Additionally,it is prudent to know when to hold them or fold them. Ask Hammy Lah.

  30. De Aiees have it

    …………….and to think that those BWA workers who stood in the sun and the rain for days actually believe/believed that the Duke was concerned about increments for them, a crying dirty shame. The BWA doing good things like new meters, new headquarters, new tanks, new mains laying, new water exploration and extraction and new upgrading and new management enhancement etc. etc………. but some only raising hell cause them aint get to latch on these developments and extract a little ‘berry’ for the Union boys.

  31. david and bush tea ; two giants

    david provides the means

    bushtea beating his head against a wall to explain that it done ALL TO NO AVAIL. LOL

  32. DAVID

    • @GP

      One should note let the outliers guide our actions 🙂

      Agree with the Duke that respect must be observed between BWA management and employes but must there be a strike for all sides to agree to this noble behaviour? Why, according to Minister Suckoo, there is the realization both sides have to talk?

  33. @David

    the bwu needs to be told that it cant hold up the project any longer. it is impacting the developing plans. The govt dont have the requisite equipment for the project. If it goes on strike, it would not get the public’s support the grand old duke of york needs to go home and let the union function. He will not get any support from the other unions.

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