The Caswell Franklyn Column–Government’s Bid for Control of Public Service

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

BU shares the Caswell Franklyn Nation newspaper column – he is the General Secretary of Unity Workers Union and BU Contributor.[…]

APPARENTLY, WITHOUT REALISING that procedures and practices, embodied in Protocol vi of the Social Partnership, had been superseded, the Prime Minister castigated the new leadership of the major trade unions for not observing those time-honoured provisions. The procedures to which the PM referred have been replaced by the provisions of the 2012 Employment Rights Act (ERA).

Prior to the coming into force of that act, the so-called Social Partnership hammered out a set of procedures to be followed when employers wanted to reduce staff. It had no legal effect and was merely what is called a gentleman’s agreement, binding in honour only.

The ERA, which came into force in April 2013, has enacted many of the practices and procedures of the protocol, particularly those provisions that dealt with the termination of employment.

The notable exception is that the ERA did not provide a role for the Minister of Labour or the Prime Minister in labour disputes. The roles that previously fell to them in the protocol have been assigned by law to the Employment Rights Tribunal.

It was therefore surprising to see the DLP Administration that legislated away roles for the PM and Minister of Labour now clinging tenaciously to a bygone era when this country relied on a purely voluntaristic industrial relations environment.

The provisions of the ERA apply to the private sector and, according to Section 51 of that act, also apply to statutory boards. It does not apply to the Public Service, which is sometimes referred to as central government.

Everything in the Public Service is regulated by its one set of binding rules.

For those reasons, as an industrial relations practitioner, I found it painful to watch Government and unions trying to contort their words and actions to fit into a procedure to circumvent the ERA, while dealing with disputes at statutory boards.

I am prepared to give those disputing parties the benefit of the doubt and suggest that, since the ERA is relatively new, its provisions are not yet well known so people preferred to stay in their comfort zones.

Be that as it may, I took comfort in the fact that, however mistaken, Government was trying to follow some process which augured well for industrial relations practice in the Public Service. I could not be more wrong!

At the first opportunity, Government appeared to have jettisoned the rules, while negotiating with the major unions for the Customs and Excise transition into the Barbados Revenue Authority, by allowing a government minister to be part of the process that leads to appointments.

From as far back as 1855, when the first Civil Service Commission was established, politicians were barred from any involvement in the appointment process for civil servants. I have therefore taken a position that I will not involve myself or my union in any negotiations that run afoul of  that longstanding convention in the Public Service.

That stance seemed to have generated some unintended controversy.

On Thursday, August 6, I awoke to a headline in the DAILY NATION: Franklyn Can’t Call The Shots For Me, Says Sinckler. The body of the article went on to quote Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler as saying: “Caswell Franklyn doesn’t determine which meetings I am going to be present at or I can’t be present at. That is not his role!”

The minister is absolutely correct: I readily accept that it is not my role to make that determination for him. The framers of the Barbados Constitution made that determination long ago at section 94. That section has given the exclusive power of making appointments in the Public Service to the Governor General, acting on the advice of the Public Service Commission (PSC). The supreme law of the land excludes ministers of Government from having any role in the appointment of public officers, except in the case of permanent secretaries, heads of department and their deputies. And then the Prime Minister is only required to be consulted before the PSC makes the recommendation for appointment to the Governor General.

The Constitution does not provide a role for politicians in the recruitment, appointment or discipline of public officers.

On the other hand, they have almost absolute control over what takes place at statutory boards. It therefore seems to me that the politicians are trying to reduce the Public Service to a series of statutory boards. I pray that day will never come. Heaven help us!

Caswell Franklyn is the general secretary of Unity Workers Union and a social commentator. Email

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13 Comments on “The Caswell Franklyn Column–Government’s Bid for Control of Public Service”

  1. Bush Tea August 9, 2015 at 7:08 AM #

    @ Caswell
    Shiite man!!
    You are a man of worth and principle. Much respect from the bushman.


  2. ac August 9, 2015 at 7:58 AM #

    O. K. caswell enough of yuh whinning , nobody listening to you anyway there is a crisis at hand that need to be resolve with quickness.
    Look crop over done and all the barriers were remove ,them too were put up for a reason but commonsense dictates that they need to be taken down the party iws oveer and the traffic needs to move faster ,
    Look at it this way barriers cause major roadblocks and dread lock. it is time for you to get out of the way and let the traffic flow easily,
    enough of yuh constipated bull sh.t.


  3. Caswell Franklyn August 9, 2015 at 8:32 AM #

    Thanks Bushie.


  4. St George's Dragon August 9, 2015 at 8:46 AM #

    I thought the Protocols of the Social Partnership lived alongside legislation and common law, so were an agreement between Government, unions and the private sector to follow a set of processes which were not legislated for. The ERA brought in new employment legislation and of course that supersedes previous legislation and common law; I don’t follow, though, why it “supersedes” the Social Partnership.
    Clearly, the ERA sets out the current law but it surely does not ban discussions and agreements which flow from the Social Partnership unless they conflict with the law.


  5. ac August 9, 2015 at 8:51 AM #

    caswell i understand where yuh coming from .but look at it this way if yuh neighbor house bunning down! wuh yuh do? wait fuh dee right authorities to come put the fire out or grab the garden hose?
    Man think! sometimes the end does justify the means.
    Sinckler say that he show up with the garden hose when the right authorities did not show up,
    So Caswell in the interest of all parties instead of ( you) standing by and watch the house go up in flames next time bring a garden house yuh hear for peak say,
    Now stop listening to that hypocrite Bush shit , today he love yuh next day he throw yuh dead a,sss under the bus wid he being the bus driver and all


  6. Gabriel August 9, 2015 at 3:38 PM #

    Well researched and written.It confirms what 69% of the electorate think about the impostors we have in our midst.They don’t know and when informed they don’t take heed.Look what the big man say about Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s.Which country suffering now with high interest loans.And even the Trinis putting in their two cents worth as to the high risk of lending this administration money.
    Some people think standing om a ‘flatform’ and entertaining the insipid party faithful by insulting the opposing parties is the same as Prime Ministership.History will not absolve this guy.It is agreed he is the worst in the last 50 years.


  7. Violet C Beckles August 9, 2015 at 9:36 PM #

    Caswell . Keep at them , You are not alone, eyes on.


  8. Caswell Franklyn August 9, 2015 at 10:56 PM #


    You got me wrong. I am not after anybody. All I want is that the people in power do the right thing. So far this lot seems incapable; I am only trying to lighten their path but light is no use to a blind man.

    Sent from my iPad



  9. Bush Tea August 9, 2015 at 11:35 PM #

    @ Caswell
    …so exactly why should the ‘people in power’ do the right thing when the people who CAN do the right …refuse to take up the mantle of service (power)????



  10. Caswell Franklyn August 9, 2015 at 11:40 PM #


    You still don’t understand me: I don’t want or crave power.

    Sent from my iPad



  11. Bush Tea August 10, 2015 at 6:24 AM #

    @ Caswell
    ..and you still don’t understand that the VERY FACT that you don’t “crave power” is a major qualification for national SERVICE…..?

    Power Shiite!!!

    The ONLY ones with “POWER” are BBE….. Everything else is shiite.

    So are you saying that Bushie still don’t understand you …cause you don’t want to SERVE your country…? …..SERVE …Caswell, what power what?!?!
    You spent a bit too much time around a former CJ…


  12. ac August 13, 2015 at 7:35 PM #

    so an agreement which was offered to the workers by BIDC and refused by the NUPW was agreed today by the workers and their lawyers . meanwhile the NUPW have kept closed lips, but what can NUPW say! the agreement was proffered as strategy by nicholls pending final decision by the court.


  13. Dompey August 13, 2015 at 8:42 PM #

    Caswell Franklyn

    Don’t want or wish to crave power, but he surely have been craving the attention he has been getting these few weeks though.


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