The Caswell Franklyn Column – Why Political Parties Exist

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

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Recent developments in this country have convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt […]

that the two major political parties have outlived their usefulness.

It would appear that the current incarnation of leaders of both organizations have somehow forgotten the reason for their formation and continued existence.

The Barbados Labour Party (BLP) was formed in 1938 with its stated mission of improving the social and economic conditions of the working class. The Democratic Labour Party (DLP) emerged in 1955 as a breakaway group from the BLP, led by the Right Excellent Errol Barrow. His pretext was that the BLP was not moving fast enough to address the plight of the working poor. In essence, both labour parties had one goal, and that was, as former Prime Minister Owen Arthur later summed it up: to stop poor people from being poor.

When both parties gained power, they set about putting legislation in place to improve the conditions of the working class. One such piece of legislation, the Shops Act, that was designed to protect the most exploited sector of the workforce, is now being repealed and replaced by a monied class friendly piece of legislation. It now appears that Government has succumbed to the pressure from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and others, thereby betraying shop assistants in the process.

In order to make the betrayal of workers palatable, Government has clothed their rhetoric in high-sounding nonsense about moving the country into the 21st century, and creating a 24/7 type society. After reading the 2015 Shops Bill and the reports from the House of Assembly, I am shocked that the Government could be so brazen as to pass legislation that would seriously disadvantage the working class and then try to make it appear beneficial to them. These workers earn, for the most part, $250 per week. This legislation would make it difficult for them to earn a little overtime pay.

Another troubling aspect is that shop assistants are mostly young women of childbearing age. Who will take care of their children when the mothers are working at nights? We know for sure that the owners of these businesses would be at home helping their children with SBAs. As far as government is concerned poor people don’t need to spend quality time with their families.

The Minister who piloted the bill cited examples where the legislation would improve the condition under which workers are employed. Amazingly, all the reported examples of “improved” conditions already exist in the old Shops Act. For example, he claimed that the new legislation would protect workers who are not of the Christian faith. That provision is found at section 6 (6) of the 1985 act. Below are other examples of “improved” conditions, cited by the Minister, and the sections of the old act where the identical provisions can be found:

· Provision of stools for workers – section 8 (1)

· One hour lunch breaks – section 6 (2)

· Provision of adequate water supply and first aid kits – section 10 (2)

The 2015 Shops Bill has put provisions in place to make the monied class richer while it seeks to disadvantage the poor shop assistants. That bill was debated when the Opposition was all embroiled in the Maria Agard saga which ensured that it got little scrutiny and judging from the reports, the Opposition was pitiful.

This brings me to the point where I believe that the Barbados Labour Party can shut shop. Last week the country witnessed the sorry spectacle of the expulsion of Dr. Maria Agard from that party. This was done amid claims that she was denied natural justice.

One of the basic tenets of natural justice is that an accused person is entitled to a fair hearing before an unbiased adjudicator. Bias does not have to be actual, the appearance of bias is sufficient to disqualify an adjudicator from hearing the case. No one in their right mind can tell me that there was no bias or no apparent bias among several of the persons hearing that case.

By denying natural justice to Dr. Agard, the BLP has given an insight into what a future BLP led administration would be capable of doing. It has shown in no uncertain terms that it is prepared to ignore the law to achieve its goals.

I have heard it said that a country deserves the government it gets. If that is so, I am left to wonder what the people of Barbados have done so wrong to deserve this Government and worse yet the government in waiting. Right now a third political party seems like the only option barring divine intervention.

Tags: , , , ,

85 Comments on “The Caswell Franklyn Column – Why Political Parties Exist”

  1. Well Well & Consequences December 1, 2015 at 11:29 AM #

    Collusion breeds continuity, in the case of Barbados, it’s negative. That damage can only be reversed if DBLP wants to be reponsible for and remembered as the politicians to do so, if not, dog eat ya dinner, or in this case, all the minorities.


  2. Box Cart December 1, 2015 at 11:48 AM #

    Since wunna now find out about how Cheffete operates, wunna musse ent noh dat hundreds (thousands?) of young women duz be breaking down dem doors looking for work every year. Also while wunna talking bout Cheffete, ask Caswell about the “permanent temporary” positions that another large employer offer shop assistants.


  3. Box Cart December 1, 2015 at 11:55 AM #

    Should it not be, why do political parties still exist?


  4. TheObserrver December 1, 2015 at 2:08 PM #

    Caswell articles/postings always provide food for thought.

    Barbados as an English speaking country is closer to the US and Canada than either the Philippines or India. If folks in Barbados are working for BDS $250.00 per week, surely there is some way that we with our highly educated population can attract some of those jobs that are being exported to the Far East.

    What are we doing wrong???
    What does Barbados need to do????
    What’s failing?
    Is our educational system producing the wrong type of worker?


  5. Sargeant December 1, 2015 at 3:10 PM #

    @The Observer
    Barbados as an English speaking country is closer to the US and Canada than either the Philippines or India. If folks in Barbados are working for BDS $250.00 per week, surely there is some way that we with our highly educated population can attract some of those jobs that are being exported to the Far East.
    Simply put Bajans will not stand for the exploitation that is visited upon people in the Philippines and India by the companies that export these jobs.

    Let me tell you how it works:

    Company A in North America teams up with Company B domiciled in India/Philippines who will be the de facto employer of the workers performing the jobs in those countries.
    Company B’s workers will earn a fraction of what the staff in North America makes; those workers will have no benefits i.e. nada – not even maternity leave. Depending on the industry they will have shifts covering 24 hours and there is no provision for shift benefit or holiday pay. Objectors to any company policy are quickly shown the door and when you live in a country with massive unemployment and poverty there will be someone there to replace you. Needless to say Unions are verboten, meanwhile Company A’s bottom line improves because Employee cost in North America is reduced, profit and share price increases – the Investors are happy and the Executives get big bonuses.

    Barbados proximity to the US and Canada is a two-way street we know each other well so they know that we are not that desperate yet and they know that we have laws on the books that in the main still protect workers’ rights (Caswell may disagree) and that is why those jobs won’t come here.

    A good example of companies washing their hands of “third world” workers completing tasks on their behalf is what happened in the aftermath of the building collapse in Bangladesh that killed people making clothing for some reputable North American companies.


  6. Box Cart December 1, 2015 at 3:17 PM #

    What are we doing wrong?.…..

    The body is willing but the head is not able. Body = People . Head = Leaders.


  7. thejustician December 2, 2015 at 11:02 AM #

    In our post-colonial context political parties exist for the same reasons unions do- to maintain the status quo i.e. ensure both the enfranchised and the unenfranchised groups remain so, and to derive personal benefit for so doing. If the masses were subject to a minority elite in governance as well who were openly exploiting them (as the DBLP does) they would be moved to establish their own government and direct their own affairs, taking the power or some extent of it from those masters; these two parties playing musical chairs fixes that problem in that the people believe they have power and select the government from among themselves, but it should be obvious that both parties pander to the same people. The masses are Bs and Ds. Bizzy say he is a PIG- the Party In Govt. Whichever party gets in, you will be told you gave them permission to be there and to make the decisions they do. You gave them a mandate with your vote. The only way they can NOT claim express permission is if no one votes… Amazing that people could think an election will change something after seeing the D-B switch of the 90s and especially the B-D switch of 7 yrs ago… which occurred how again, if under the Bs it’s all milk an’ honey? It also puzzles me how unions intend to move an entire nation forward by charging the workers money for protection, and how people trust that someone has their best interests at heart while they protect only who pays, and hobnob with the same ones they need protection from. If solidarity and a collective consciousness could be inspired among the people there would be no need for unions. Or political parties. Sites like BU can play a major role in building these.


  8. balance December 3, 2015 at 6:45 AM #

    Bro Cas in one of your earlier posts you attributed the formation of the DLP to Mr Barrow; I too held that view until I came across this statement in the autobiography of former Deputy Premier Wynter Crawford in the Barrow administration and I quote.

    “Contrary to general belief, Errol Barrow did not start the Democratic Labour Party. When the DLP started he was in the Barbados Labour party. The DLP was started in 1955 by Owen. T. Allder and L. B. Brathwaithe and one or two others who were disaffected with Adams. They started meeting at Tudor’s house, ‘Lemon Grove’. After Cameron Tudor and Barrow broke with Adams, they went along with the little group. They met at Tudor’s house because they had nowhere else to meet.’
    However in Professor Woodville Marshall’s critique to the contents of the autobiography, he noted thus-
    “the official history of the DLP indicates that two ‘tributaries’ of protest met to form the party. One tributary, the older, was led by Allder and Brathwaithe, while the newer one was led by parliamentarians, disaffected members of the Barbados labour party- Errol barrow, A.E.S Lewis, F.G Smith, and Cameron Tudor. Discussions between the two groups from February to April 1955 ended in agreement to launch a political party which would be both democratic and socialist


  9. balance December 4, 2015 at 6:10 AM #

    More excerpts from Mr winter Crawford’s autobiography which can challenge certain myths surrounding the existence of political parties and I quote-
    ” After Barrow and Tudor left Adams, they came over to the Opposition and used to vote in the House of assembly with Brancker, Talma, Homie Corbin and myself. That made six of us. So Barrow did not join us as a leader at all.


  10. balance December 8, 2015 at 10:32 AM #

    Mr Michael Rudder made a very important contributionto public debate in an article in the nation yesterday pertaining to the internal squabbles within political parties and the impact they could have on the outcome of the elections for the affected party if internal disputes are not kept in-house or settled sensibly . Again i offer excerpts from Mr Wynter Crawford’s autobiography which generally support the view of my former er English master and i quote-
    “The only paragraphs in the manifesto i did not write myself were the paragraphs on education and a small paragraph on constitutional reform. It was circulated and everyone said it played a great part in helping us to win the election.. It was agreed that, if we won, Brancker would be Premier.
    During the campaign, it is true, Brancker did not play the part that Barrow did. He used to confine himself mostly to his constituency whereas Barrow went with us all over the island. But, for all that, Barrow had not emerged to the point wher the public of necessity regarded him as leader. He had only been back in the House of Assembly for approximately two years and, when he asked me to join the party, he had offered me the leadership.
    During the campaign, a meeting was held in Church Village and a man called Grandison or Granville, who worked with the st Michael Highway Commissioner, got up and said that, if the DLP won, they would make Barrow Premier, which was not true. The next morning Brancker rang me about 6 a.m.He said, ‘you heard what happened? What are you going to do about it?’ I replied, ‘Man, i have been studying this very carefully. It appears to me we are going to win, and one of the reasons why we have been doing so well is the fact that there is a lot of squabbling for leadership on the other side.-Miller, Cox, Mapp-nobody wants this one or that one. It is easy for me to hold a meeting tomorrow night and for me to say we have decided to make you Premier.But if i do that we will lose the election because people will say, ‘Both parties are squabbling over the leadership. We had better put back the party that we know.’ He said, ‘That is a point of view i can’t ignore but i will never work under Barrow. If you go along with it, i wil be Speaker of the House.’


Join in the discussion, you never know how expressing your view may make a difference.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: