The Caswell Franklyn Column – When There’s No Alternative

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.

NOT ALL BLACK AND WHITE: When there’s no alternative

Caswell Franklyn,


Added 04 October 2015

ANYONE WHO has been reading my column would realise that I am usually hard on the Government.

I hope that this realisation would come with the understanding that my criticisms are well founded. My fervent prayer is that readers would not see my writings as being party political, with a view of supporting the Opposition Barbados Labour Party. That is never my intention; it is just that the Government makes too many mistakes and it is easy to draw attention to their performance. On the other hand, it is difficult to find aspects of the Opposition’s work to criticise when they hardly do anything.

I am of the view that the current DLP administration is probably the worst that this country has seen in living memory. My understanding is that this view is shared by a wide cross section of the country, yet there is no clamour for a change of Government, not even from the official Opposition. The reason is simple: there appears to be no viable alternative ready to take over the reins of Government at this time.

Recent developments in the Opposition party clearly demonstrate that they somehow believe that the Government is so poor that the electorate would have no choice other than to hand the country over to the BLP at the next general elections.  That level of arrogance has given them the comfort to ignore the mismanagement of the country to concentrate on efforts to unseat one of their own.

That simple act of political naivety, some might say stupidity, is more than enough proof that the BLP can’t manage its own affairs and is therefore unfit to manage this country’s business.

While I have no intention of seeking political office, the void created by the BLP’s failure to be an effective Opposition needs to be filled. To this end, I intend to highlight the Government’s shortcomings and hope that they would take the necessary corrective action. With that in mind, I refer to a report in the MIDWEEK NATION of September 23, 2015 where the Minister of Labour, in my view, unintentionally misled the country on the requirement for a statement of employment particulars, in accordance with the provisions of the Employment Rights Act.

Dr Byer is quoted as saying that some employers seemed to be of the view that the statements were optional, but under the law all workers needed to have them. She went on to accuse employers, who did not issue the statements, of breaking the law.

There is no nice way of putting it: the minister is wrong.

Statements of Employment Particulars are required by section 13. (1) of the Employment Rights Act (ERA). It states:

Where a contract of employment is contemplated, the employer shall, prior to or forthwith upon the commencement of the contract, give the employee a written statement of particulars of the employment.

Subsection (2) then goes on to detail the items that must be contained in the statement, which include, “a description of the work for which he is employed”.

The ERA requires statements when a contract is contemplated. There is no way to contemplate giving an existing contract to someone who is already employed in that particular job. This provision as currently drafted can only apply to new employees or to existing employees who are being promoted or reassigned to a different job.

Unfortunately, many employers, labouring under the same misinterpretation as the minister, have gone ahead and issued new job descriptions. Ordinarily, reducing existing contracts to writing might not be a bad thing, but some unscrupulous employers have slipped in duties that did not exist before and deceived workers into signing under the pretext that the ERA requires such.

Employers have engaged the services of human resource consultants and spent thousands of dollars to develop new job descriptions for their existing staff. Some of them have already come to the conclusion that they incurred unnecessary expenditure to comply with a non-existent requirement of the ERA. Nonetheless, they are still requiring their employees to sign the new job descriptions.

My advice to workers is do not sign anything unless you get independent advice or you might live to regret it.

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

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34 Comments on “The Caswell Franklyn Column – When There’s No Alternative”

  1. Dompey October 4, 2015 at 6:33 AM #

    Caswell Franklyn

    You’re not pro BLP Mr. Franklyn?
    You could have fool me because you’re highly critical of everything this DLP government does, but have failed in many of your articles to draw direct attention to the Opposition inaction regarding this alleged widespreading incompetency of the DLP Administration.

    You have claimed that there isn’t anything the Opposition does that is worth writing about because the Opposition does not do anything right?
    So why not hold the Opposition accountable and answerable for its inability to articulate to the Barbadian people the incompetency of this DLP Administration in much the same light as you and others do here on BU, with respect to the DLP Government since you’re pro BLP?

    Caswell, must you continue to insult our intelligence with your poor attempted to cloak your allegiance to the BLP Government by speaking it away in words that aren’t too difficult to extrapolate?


  2. The Observer October 4, 2015 at 8:01 AM #

    Excellent article.

    It seem as if Dompey wants you to heap fire and brimstone on the BLP. Commenting on their inaction is the most that you “can” do.

    I see that you agree people should receive a job description upon starting a job.

    Perhaps having a website where an employee can have access to his/her job description and the next higher level would help with this problem. With job descriptions in place and accessible, it would be more difficult for companies to tailor a vacancy/position to exclude or include a candidate. Therefore, I see some merit in the minister’s statement,


  3. Caswell Franklyn October 4, 2015 at 8:24 AM #

    What the Minister is saying is desirable but it is just not what she piloted through the House of Assembly. She was the person who brought the Employment Rights Bill to the House and it is clear, from her mouthings, that she is not familiar enough with the act to speak on it.


  4. Dompey October 4, 2015 at 8:59 AM #

    Caswell Franlyn

    You ought to be cognizant of the fact that there is a clause in most union contracts which allots management the unilateral authority to implement policies and procedures which at times can undermines an employee’ job description.

    Caswell, take for example: an employee might be initially hired for a forty hour work week sixteen hours a day max, according to the labour laws, but due to unprecedent happenstances an employer can force an employee to work beyond what his or her job description entails based on the needs of the job at the time.


  5. Bush Tea October 4, 2015 at 9:03 AM #

    @ Caswell
    “What the Minister is saying is desirable but it is just not what she piloted through the House of Assembly.”
    What makes it so desirable?

    In the 21st century the idea of fixed and inflexible ‘job descriptions’ is outdated. The challenge that we all face is one of innovation and productivity – and there is no better way to kill these, than by formalising basic relationships such as these.

    What we REALLY need is people like yourself finding themselves IN THE BOARDROOMS OF THESE COMPANIES so that employee issues can be addressed proactively, …while innovation, performance and merit incentives can be promoted.

    This lotta shiite of selfish businessmen looking to scam workers; and then ingrunt Union men trying to sort it out; while the retarded government complicates the playing field ….is a recipe for failure …. which we are presently brewing very well…


  6. David October 4, 2015 at 9:09 AM #

    @Bush Tea

    The need for job descriptions come to the for in contentious situations not so? Understand you bigger point how it may act as a delimiter.


  7. Bush Tea October 4, 2015 at 10:06 AM #

    @ David
    If the Boards of business places were properly populated, then there would be appropriate representation by people of Caswell’s ilk …. people who understand the rules and who care about justice and fairness.
    ‘Contentious situations’ would mostly be therefore trashed out in the boardroom, and by the time policy was articulated, it would mostly be logical and focused on what you called the ‘bigger point’.
    This is how intelligent people operate.

    What we have here, is some JA deciding on some shiite policy down Cattlewash after a few beers, who then ‘holds a 10 minute meeting’ next Monday morning telling fellow ‘Bored’ members of HIS plans – the ‘minutes of which were already written the night before.

    Then when a ‘Caswell’ gets the plans and refers to rule 321-A / 22b, and realise that the decision is a lotta shiite – all hell breaks out, works gets done, ..everyone becomes enemies, ..and employees only looking to see what they can extract before separation comes…
    We all lose…

    The Union Leaders of this era have done us all a disservice by their failure to INSIST on employee share ownership as a fundamental RIGHT; and on a percentage representation on Boards that REFLECT the company’s assessment of the value of its staff.

    But …as the Unions are wont to espouse, ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’….and ALSO the idiot businessmen…


  8. Hants October 4, 2015 at 10:16 AM #

    Bushie wrote “The Union Leaders of this era have done us all a disservice by their failure to INSIST on employee share ownership as a fundamental RIGHT; and on a percentage representation on Boards that REFLECT the company’s assessment of the value of its staff.”



  9. David October 4, 2015 at 10:28 AM #


    We assume employees (Barbadians) would be interested?


  10. The Observer October 4, 2015 at 10:54 AM #

    I have a great deal of respect for your contributions, but must differ with you here.

    First, let me pull one of your teeth, by stating that a “sensible employee willing to be continuously employed would put in the extra effort when it is required”. By law, I work a 4o hour week and have no overtime, but I have often done in excess of 50 hours as the occasion demand. Management does not have to ask me to put in those extra hours, I do so on my own.You seem willing to allow some leeway when it comes to documenting what tasks should be performed by an individual, and you seem to think that driving towards innovations and productivity make job descriptions obsolete.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but where I have trouble with your position is that you seem to think that innovation and productivity make the job descriptions obsolete, I have an opposite position, I b;lieve that job descriptions allow people to perform the task that they were hired to perform. They are protection for the workers. Allow me to exaggerate a little so as to make my point. Without a job description, we could have people hire to be a a chemist, being forced to wash test tubes and do janitorial work. Lofty ideal, such as efficiency, productivity and innovations, can be swamped by petty behavior of a manager.


  11. The Observer October 4, 2015 at 10:55 AM #

    Excuse a few grammatical errors and some repetition… I think you will get the gist…


  12. Bush Tea October 4, 2015 at 11:57 AM #

    Bushie gets your points fully…..and in an ideal world, what you suggest would work wonders.
    Unfortunately, we are not only NOT operating in an ideal world, but in a world with a propensity for brass bowls to dominate. The SYSTEM therefore needs to be robust enough to do the ‘thinking for success’.

    Take Job descriptions.
    A manager has an ‘idea’ for a new product…but would now need to come up with whole new ‘job descriptions’ just to test out this possibility….documents that Caswell will hold against you for years to come…
    …or an employee wants to try out a new idea but unfortunately would be ‘stepping’ into someone else’s area of responsibility…and seen by others as making them look bad and lazy..

    Such possibilities need to be MUCH MORE fluid and flexible; and to be based on transparency, discussions, consensus and collective common interests.

    Job descriptions were designed to ensure that employees were not exploited beyond the conditions negotiated for them by unions. If we are still in that environment we may as well shut shop…

    So for innovation and efficiency, what we need is the kind of environment where, as you indicate, employees will WANT to put in extra effort and extra hours – because of a sense of ownership and empowerment…not one of fighting against clear exploitation.


  13. Dompey October 4, 2015 at 12:09 PM #

    Caswell Franklyn

    It is important that when the Union sits down with management to negotiate a contract for its membership, that it goes to great lengths to make certain that the language is unambiguous and devoid of much interpretation on the part of management.

    So since you’re focusing your article on the job descriptions of the employees and employers who unscrupulously disregard these union mandates and adds more to the employees work load, thereby violating the terms of the binding agreement because of the inexactitude of its interpretation. It is a incumbent upon the Union to do its best to make sure that the language is crystal clear to avoid such problem in the future.

    Now take for example the latter part of this union contract with the description and the duties of an employee, and it reads: AN EMPLOYEE MAY ADMINISTER SELECTED ORAL MEDICATION WITH THE APPROPRIATE TRAINING; AND PERFORM RELATED DUTIES AS REQUIRED.” The latter part of this Union contract gives the employer the latitude to add without impunity a workload he or she sees fit.


  14. Jeff Cumberbatch October 4, 2015 at 12:16 PM #

    @ Bush Tea,

    I am afraid that the work environment is much more flexible as a matter of law than you appear to think. The obligation of the employee to co-operate with the employer to achieve the fundamental end of the enterprise requires the employee to adapt to new methodologies so long as these arrangements do not strike at the heart of the relationship by fundamentally altering the employee’s prescribed duties


  15. Hants October 4, 2015 at 1:29 PM #

    @ David “We assume employees (Barbadians) would be interested?”

    Why would Barbadians NOT want “share ownership” and “representation on boards” ?


  16. David October 4, 2015 at 1:31 PM #


    Why are Bajans labeled risk averse? Then there is the fact tenure is not that secure compared to days of old.


  17. Bush Tea October 4, 2015 at 2:16 PM #

    LOL @ Jeff
    I am afraid that the work environment is much more flexible as a matter of law than you appear to think.
    No surprised that you are afraid… Jeff..

    Anyone brave enough to associate the word ‘flexible’ with the Law in Barbados needs to be afraid….
    First of all, ..employees having legal “obligations to cooperate with employers…” are nothing but meaningless words designed to inflate the invoice of HR /legal consultants employed in industrial relations.
    …and if you re-read the remainder of your proposition, you will see enough loop-holds therein to render the concept essentially meaningless….as in – ‘as long as these arrangements do not strike at the heart of the relationship by fundamentally altering the employee’s prescribed duties”
    Skippa, these are the kind of statements that make Caswell’s day…. 🙂

    In the final analysis, the ONLY reliable method of getting bright and thinking employees to “co-operate with the employer to achieve the fundamental end of the enterprise” is to create an atmosphere of transparency, fairness, rules that are enforced, and collective interests.

    Such employees will not even call Caswell when problems arise – cause they KNOW that the boss is just as interested in a FAIR solution as they are…

    …and of course the question of ‘the LAW’ does not even arise….


  18. Caswell Franklyn October 4, 2015 at 2:25 PM #

    Utopia is defined as the land where Bushie lives and conducts business.

    Sent from my iPad



  19. Caswell Franklyn October 4, 2015 at 2:35 PM #


    There will always be a need for me or somebody like me to fight for justice for workers. Nepotism, lodge connections, school ties, political affiliation and sex (the real kind and increasingly the perverted kind) determine who gets hired or promoted in this country. Very seldom do people in this country get promoted on merit. If you don’t have those connections then there is the need for me to fight on your behalf.

    Sent from my iPad



  20. Jeff Cumberbatch October 4, 2015 at 3:10 PM #

    @Bush Tea

    I suspected that you lived in a dream world, but I clearly did not fully appreciate to what extent! This reminds me of when the Moyne Commission commented on the absence of a Workmen’s Compensation Act in Barbados. They were told, “Oh, we do not need that, the employers will take care of a worker if he or she is injured.” Yeah, right!


  21. Bush Tea October 4, 2015 at 3:46 PM #

    @ Jeff and Caswell
    It may appear to be a dream world ..or even Utopia… but another word may be ‘enlightened…’
    Not to worry. .. it has been said of bushmen “you are not of this world therefore the world cannot understand you….’


  22. The Observer October 4, 2015 at 3:53 PM #

    Not to pile on, but I have found Bushie to be of the real world and practical.
    Surprised that he would take and almost indefensible stance.


  23. Bush Tea October 4, 2015 at 4:01 PM #

    Clearly you too are not shareholders (like Bushie) and therefore fail to understand the POWER that lies in the hands of such persons to impact the direction of an organisation.

    Bushie is not talking about going begging to be someone’s servant, but about an organisational arrangement where employees OWN meaningful blocks of shares and are thus represented at the OWNERSHIP level.

    Bushmen don’t waste time looking to legislate ‘rights’ for classless servants…. they establish a new OWNER CLASS who seek to guide their own destiny.

    LOL … it requires a mindset change…

    Take yourself Jeff… (never mind Caswell, we know that he sees himself as a minion…)
    Why does a young, articulate, highly intelligent and capable black man resign himself to being a ‘servant’ doing the bidding of Sir Cave and his successors for X hours / month?

    …is it not because you have a mindset that tells you that you must find someone ‘superior’ upon whom you should trust your future?…and with your talent and skills, you will find no shortage of potential masters…. shiite man… we see that Fumble Froon has just recruited you at some nominal rate to serve on the FTC…

    Great …but…

    How come you don’t see yourself as some kinda CHIEF /KING / RULER and LEADER of men and countries and eras?
    The characteristic of the ‘ruler class’ is that they do not see LAWS as something to which they are subject-able, but as the means by which THEY subjugate their subordinates…
    ..and they need people like you and Caswell to administer such details…

    We need a true and competent ‘leader class’ in Barbados URGENTLY….there is no shortage of administrators…


  24. Caswell Franklyn October 4, 2015 at 4:56 PM #

    Most times Bushie makes sense: he is entitled to sometime off.



  25. Jeff Cumberbatch October 4, 2015 at 6:11 PM #


    On reflection,though, I think that he is making some sense in his last post. He suggests that the lunatics are running the asylum while those that should be guards abdicate their responsibility and concern themselves with petty things.

    Reminds me of the line in Julius Caesar of whom it was said that “he bestrides the world like a giant colossus while we petty men walk under his huge legs and peep about to find ourselves dishonorable graves…” Yet, who is this Caesar, that he has grown so great…?

    Thanks for the kind words, Bush Tea!


  26. Caswell Franklyn October 4, 2015 at 6:30 PM #

    While some like Bushie might consider protecting workers rights petty, it is what I have dedicated my life to do so it is not petty for me. In fact I believe it to be a calling. Once I took a pay cut of $1,200 per month to work at NUPW. That is how far I have gone to work in defence of those who cannot defend themselves.

    Let me give you an example. Sometime ago I went to the offices of a statutory board to represent a worker who was accused of an offence and placed on suspension on half pay pending the outcome of the case. When his name was called, I stood up. The Human Resources Officer turned to the accused and said, “you should tell we that you bringing he. Hold on”. She went back into the boardroom and spent a few minutes. When she emerged she said to the accused, “You come back to work tomorrow”.

    If I were not there he would have lost his job. You might ask how I know this – his replacement was already on the job, brought in by the Minister. They then had two persons in one job. Just my presence prevented an injustice, I did not have to speak.

    Sent from my iPad



  27. Dompey October 4, 2015 at 6:45 PM #

    Caswell Franklyn

    I would agree with you that there is a pressing need for people of your sort in our day and age, but I must admit though that in recent years the Union has compromised its position with its duplicitous dealings with management, so the onus probandi is on you sir.


  28. Dompey October 4, 2015 at 7:16 PM #

    Caswell Franklyn

    Perhaps, you can shed clearer light on this phenomenon which has been taking place in the working environment for a couple of decades now, and it is a cause for concern in my judgment.

    I have noticed that a lot of the union delegates of the 1980’s era have taken managerial positions, and I do not know of anyone of them who are active union delegrates today, which leads me to question their loyalty to the Collective-Bargaining Process in the first place. I have heard the saying that oil and water don’t mix, but this doesn’t seems to be the case here.


  29. Bush Tea October 4, 2015 at 7:35 PM #

    @ Caswell
    “If I were not there he would have lost his job.”
    Skippa, you have NO CLUE as to your real value….

    Have you ever tried to calculate what Barbados would have lost (and what we stand to lose in future) by NOT having someone with your balls and gumption in Parliament instead of the likes of Kellman, Michael Lashley and those other jokers??

    In one of his parables, Jesus spoke of the story of the talents. where talent were handed out based on the ability of the recipients…. But you present a special category…
    You received two talents but you took it upon yourself to bury one in the ground, and to invest the other one in CLICO….

    @ Jeff
    Something HAS to be fundamentally wrong with a society where CLEARLY talented and quality citizens are content to act as SERVANTS to the riff-raff that have been able to promote themselves into positions of leadership by default.
    You, Walter,GP, and Caswell comes immediately to mind….

    Barrow identified it as a poor self-image…where at best, we see ourselves as top-servants to someone else…

    This is one of the attributes that Sir Cave is well placed to teach Bajans. Unfortunately, instead of teaching and empowering us with this attribute, he has been using it to propel himself first to national, then regional and soon, international prominence – through the reparations shiite…
    But like him or not…..Here is a man with the self-image of A MAN among men…
    …actually Bushie likes him …just that he is playing the ass….much like Caswell.


  30. Dompey October 4, 2015 at 7:45 PM #

    Caswell, your presence wouldn’t have made a difference if the evidence against the employee was overwhelming. And how would he have lost his job unless he was at the progressive discipline stage and mostly his final step, then at that time you the union could have file a greivance on his behaft, if you weren’t satisfy with the human resources findings.


  31. Bush Tea October 4, 2015 at 7:57 PM #

    Wait Dompey!!!
    …you can’t see big people talking….?!! 🙂


  32. Dompey October 4, 2015 at 8:00 PM #

    Caswell Franklyn

    Who are you fooling Caswell? This employee was a member of the Union and there is process to follow before an employee can be terminated unless he or she was at the progressive discipline stage. Man please! I have been a member of the Union from as far back as 1987 and I never heard such bull coming from one of its members.


  33. Artaxerxes October 5, 2015 at 12:03 PM #

    Thine ignorance hath no boundaries.

    I bet when you look in the dictionary for the word “idiot”, his picture is used as a illustration.


  34. Hants October 7, 2015 at 12:24 PM #

    GOVERNMENT intends to sell its majority shareholding in Republic Bank in 2017, Finance Minister Colm Imbert has said.
    Imbert also announced that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has offered to finance the mass transit system proposed by the Government


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