Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group
The Mahogany Coconut Group welcomes the new General Secretary of the powerful Barbados Workers Union (BWU), Comrade Toni Moore. She is the first woman to head what is probably one of the best organized workers unions throughout the Caribbean. It is a tribute to the Barbadian women, who have always been in the struggle for the betterment of the working class. Our faith in the younger Caribbean generation is fortified by Comrade Moore’s elevation at the young age of thirty eight.
Comrade Moore takes over the union at a time when the workers in Barbados are under tremendous pressure as the government’s austerity program becomes more intensified and far reaching. The Transport Board, and other government statutory boards, have suffered from widespread retrenchment and the unions, in many cases have not been as vigilant, as we would have wanted them to be in fighting government on behalf of their members. Many workers of the BWU believe they have been betrayed by their leadership, and have speared no effort in publicly accusing the BWU and other unions of dropping the ball.
Her task will be to reignite that spirit of activism that has fallen so badly and we hope that she quickly demonstrates a desire to carry the fight to both the public and private sector employers. We are aware that her predecessor, Sir Roy Trotman, has left some issues on the table which she must address with great speed. We speak of the current Employment Rights Bill that employers have been exploiting because of loop holes. Comrade Moore should also move quickly to mend all fences in the Social Partnership if it is to become any worthwhile factor in the social and economic development of the country.
To put it mildly her “plate is full” and she cannot afford the traditional honeymoon. The pleasantries will be short lived and we hope that her preparation for this task has been comprehensive enough, not only to make the transition from Sir Roy smooth, but effective on behalf of the membership of the BWU.
As Sir Roy retires we consider him a progressive force and believe strongly that he did the very best he could during his long stewardship. We also believe that sometimes his well known penchant for diplomacy might have trumped his being a trade unionist. And while we recognize that diplomacy is vital in public discourse and leadership, we also realize it is often wasted on those who have no respect for the union or the workers. We therefore suggest that activism and not diplomacy is still the better tool in fighting for workers rights in Barbados and indeed the Caribbean.
We wish Sir Roy all the best.