The Caswell Franklyn Column – MY VOTE HAS A PRICE

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

After many years of observing the quality of governance that Barbadians are forced to undergo at the national level, I decided that I would stay away from the polls at the upcoming general elections. Then, after seeing the lavish Christmas gifts that certain members of parliament distributed to their constituents, ostensibly, in my opinion, to influence the vote, I had a change of heart.

I have decided that my vote would also come at a price. It will more than likely go to the political party that gives a solemn commitment to reform and enforce this country’s labour laws, in order to alleviate the harsh; and in some cases, slave-like conditions that workers endure just to keep food on their tables.

This country has more than its fair share of labour laws that are either little known and where known, there is little to no mechanisms in place to enforce them. In addition these laws are contained in too many different statutes. Starting today and leading up to the general elections, I will highlight some of the more glaring examples where reform and enforcement are needed.

In 1951 parliament enacted the Protection of Wages Act which, among other things, provided that wages must be paid entirely in legal tender (money). A subsequent amendment in 1975 allowed employers to pay, in addition to monetary wages, allowances other than monetary allowances, provided that they are of personal benefit to the worker and his family; and are of a fair and reasonable value. Without that provision, it would be illegal for an employer to give a remuneration package that included housing or a vehicle.

That provision has now been misinterpreted to allow employers to compensate workers with time off for actually working overtime. I have even heard one lawyer, with an LEC by the way, argue that the employee would be able to spend the time off with his family, and as such, it would satisfy the requirement that the compensation should be of benefit to the worker and his family.

It is bad enough when private sector employers bend or even break the law in this regard, but it is hair-raisingly dishonest for Government to knowingly resort to such tactics just to cut back on salary costs. One such government entity that compensate workers with time off for work actually done is the Grantley Adams International Airport. Despite the letter and spirit of the law, their terms and conditions document contains provisions for compensatory time off for work actually done. This matter is even more troubling when you consider that those terms and conditions were negotiated and signed off by a trade union.

Also at subsection 9.(2) the act allows workers to request their employers to make deductions from their wages to pay third parties. It states:

“A worker may assign a part of the wages payable to him under a contract of employment”.

In effect any worker, who has periodic commitments like loan payments, insurance premiums or union dues can request the employer to make the appropriate deduction and pay it over to the third party. Essentially, the employer is doing the worker a favour by making the deduction. However, as time has gone by, a practice has developed where the employer refuses request to stop making the deductions, unless the third party gives permission. This is so ludicrous, it isn’t funny. Just imagine asking someone to do you a favour and that person refusing to stop doing the favour when requested to stop.

Recently a friend of mine, who is a government employee and who had been paying an insurance policy for his daughter, instructed the accounts department to stop making the deductions from his salary because the policy had matured. They refused to carry out his instructions and told him that they would have to get permission from the insurance provider. The only deductions that an employee cannot stop are government imposed deductions, like National Insurance contributions and income tax, and court ordered deductions like child support.

Any person who assigns part of his salary can also stop the employer from making the deductions without more. Unfortunately, you will not hear any other union leader making this clear, simply because unions and some employers collaborate to keep workers trapped in the employers’ preferred union.

Workers have a constitutional right to belong to trade unions of their choice, it is not up to the employer to force them to stay. Government must therefore clarify the law to protect workers even from their trade unions.

26 comments

  • Caswell

    What you are calling a price is really no price at all.

    It could only be a price if as a function of demand and supply

    Within the social conditions which are evolving there is no real demand for your vote and what supply there maybe has little relevance to the ruling elites.

    They will do as they like anyhow!

    Barbados is much nearer to the state of affairs where the elites are more and more willing to totally ignore the popular will which you seem to still believe is so necessary, central

    In fact, the elites are much closer to the use of force, of all types, rather than a dependence of popular will as the source of ‘legitimacy’.

    As things stand everything around you has been changed, is being changed, by successive administrations without any popular mandate, even understanding

    Or what mandate they maybe is so hollowed-out that it is as if it did not exist at all.

    Why would you still continue to believe that anything you may have to say has any relevance beyond mere window dressing?

    The nature of window dressing seems inconsistent with such a pricing model.

    However, a decision not to vote seems the lesser of all the evils.

    Like

  • Pacha

    It is sad but you may be right, yet Barbadians refuse to act. A little civil disobedience might be needed.

    Liked by 1 person

  • It is the Animal Farm story playing out. We never learn.

    Like

  • You could really hush though Caswell….

    When called to ‘BUP’ and to do something constructive, you chose to remain silent. Instead of Grenville’s clueless focus on our offending Trump, you could -all like now – be offering a viable vision of a future for Barbados…..built on transparency and TRUTH….

    Steupsss

    Anyway – Bushie done wid dat.

    The shit has not only hit the streets, but also the BIG fan, It is only grass now for our donkeys.

    In any case…
    De whacker get tek way fuh good now…. waste of time.
    Bushie out…..

    Like

  • Bushie

    You mean de whacker get repossessed and the debt collector got um……..

    ……. word on the streets is that you fell behind in your hire purchase payments.

    Don’t worry……. I gine and buy it.

    Hahahahaha
    Wuh loss

    Like

  • Joker…
    What do you not understand by “too little too late”?
    Debt shiite!!! Bushie owes NO ONE…. not a single cent.
    Bushie is even richer now than ever…. but that is not the point…
    You have no idea of YOUR perilous state….

    Soon….

    Like

  • Poor Bushie! That is now two wackers that are not working. Don’t worry though, there is medication for the first.

    Sent from my iPad

    Like

  • Bushie…….Yuh very acid????

    Yuh mean you duz attack people left, right and centre……. and can’t tek a little joke?

    Sheesh……… please accept my apologies for offending you.

    And take Caswell’s advice……. there is medication for the first whacker.

    Like

  • A country locked in a 10 year economic depression and we still find time to view the challenge of recovery through partisan lenses.

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington

    @ Caswell

    ” Government must therefore clarify the law”.

    For a man who has been nurtured in the law courts that is a strange hope.

    The GOB of Barbados has historically been made up of lawyers. Lawyers make their living by demystifying the laws for laymen. It is a conflict of interest for them to make pellucidly clear laws. You mekking sport so early this Sunday morning? Wuhloss.

    Furthermore you are an expert on Industrial Law. Do you want to lose your pick?

    Like

  • @ David, “10 year economic depression”

    It will take 10 year economic recovery that will include pain and suffering.

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington

    @ Caswell

    A very erudite and timely article. Entertaining as well. I am not too sure how labour laws will fit into the new emerging Economy and Society. We are on the cusp of change.

    Like

  • @Hants

    Yes, doesn’t matter the political party in office. Unfortunately with a general election weeks months away hard decisions will be delayed. No wonder Bushie’s whacker failing.

    Like

  • The GOB of Barbados has historically been made up of lawyers. Lawyers make their living by demystifying the laws for laymen. (Quote)

    Wrong. Lawyers make their living by mystifying simple law. Our governance will improve when we remove all lawyers from parliament.

    Like

  • I have long called for ” A few good men ” so as to send the message to the deeply entrenched that status quo can no longer obtain. Greed/selfishness continues to be the number one obstacle confronting us.BWU, NUPW, BSTU, BUT, Unity, and the list continues. One common objective supposedly. Representation of the workers. A cazillion third parties with one common objective. Representation of the people. Here we are on the eve of probably the most important election in the history of the country, and are forced to rely on the deeply entrenched, and hope for change. CARIFTA/CARICOM/CSME ……changed name, same results for the tie that binds is disunity/infighting. There is enough for man’s need….it’s still insufficient through man’s greed.

    Like

  • “David January 14, 2018 at 10:51 AM #
    A country locked in a 10 year economic depression and we still find time to view the challenge of recovery through partisan lenses.”

    What do you expect after lapping up a diet of partisan politics for the better part of 50 years? We are what we eat. Garbage in garbage out.

    Like

  • Bernard

    You wrote:

    A very erudite and timely article. Entertaining as well. I am not too sure how labour laws will fit into the new emerging Economy and Society. We are on the cusp of change.

    If there are not adequate labour laws to protect workers from unscrupulous employers the Economy and Society would always be in crisis. If workers feel that they are not being treated fairly, they will not go the extra mile that might make the difference between success and failure of their employer’s business.

    Employers need to know that there are behaviours that the law will frown upon and levy the necessary penalty. Let me give you a few examples of mistreatment of workers that employers meted out to workers, with the full knowledge that there would be no penalty:

    The Public Holidays Act provides that businesses, with certain exceptions, must close on public holidays. Many of those US companies operating in Barbados ignore the law and only close on US public holidays. Some of those same companies refuse to give employees holidays with pay as required by our law.

    One local company, owned by a credit union, dismissed a worker unfairly and when their actions were pointed out to them as being unfair, they agreed to compensate the worker. His compensation was agreed and communicated to him as $230,000. They were then convinced by their lawyer to only pay him $90,000 take it or leave it or he would have to wait three years on the Employment Rights Tribunal.

    Chefette just fired a worker for taking and eating six chips (french fries).

    Cost-U-Less invited a worker to a disciplinary meeting and told him that he could bring a representative. He turned up with a representative from BWU and the company refused to deal with the union and fired the worker promptly.

    We need legislation to punish this bad behaviour and where laws exist, we need enforcement.

    Sent from my iPad

    >

    Like

  • Bernard Codrington

    @ Caswell at 1 : 36 PM

    Reading between the lines it is quite clear to me that there are laws ,regulations and penalties existing already to deal with these labour issues,but the will to enforce the laws ,regulations and conventions is not there. In frustration we are adding other bits of legislation which are equally not enforced or are enforceable. It is like a dog chasing its own tail.

    The problem seems to be weak government,ineffective law enforcement officers or societal inertia. It is noticeable that foreign owned companies ,in your scenarios ,appear to be the chief disrespectors of the local laws and practice. Is this a matter of clashing cultures or the new colonialism/ enslavement?

    Where there is no vision the people perish. We have a lot of serious work /thinking to do.

    Like

  • @Bernard

    More informed citizen advocacy.

    Like

  • Couldn’t happen in Frank Walcott’s time.

    Like

  • Canadians and UNION LEADERS protest even when it is minus 10.

    Bajans does cant leff home when de rain fallin. lol

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/thenational/tim-hortons-faces-protests-over-employee-benefit-cuts-1.4482204

    Like

  • @Hants

    Correct, we have become fat and lazy.

    Like

  • …”MY VOTE HAS A PRICE”…

    What PRICE will it take to change the mindset of those employers/business owners who flout the laws of the land at the expense of their employees?
    Are Unions and by extension the Government playing their part in curbing calculated policies of these business owners,?

    Maybe now is the time to send a strong message to “all involve” who continue to make a mockery of the value and contribution of employees ACROSS THE BOARD.

    What do Bajans enjoy?… They enjoy a BANK HOLIDAY.

    That being an absolute, take a docile and humble stance to exercise the value of established constitutional rights, to make the employer/business owner recognize that profits made is had of the employees rolls and contributions, that remuneration/wages be on par with global standards, that there must be a fair and balance distribution of generated revenue /profits, that the entitlements due by law to the employee is nothing to be tampered with, that the employee is a living entity who expect respect as it is given, that conditions of work be of a high standard, that by no means are they hardware to be abused, be misused and exploited sexually or otherwise at their whims and fancies using the retaining of jobs as leverage, that many other infringements (to many to list here at this time) be thwarted, changed and to send a strong message to all concern that at this point enough is enough.

    The best way to achieve this is to have A ONE WEEK BANK HOLIDAY,

    A REFUSAL TO WORK POLICY…. firstly, to violating establishments and by extension ACROSS THE BOARD …no protests, not a sick out exercise, not a strike, not to display chaos in the streets or at their work establishment but an abrupt unexpected week of relaxation by ALL to be at home or at the beach with family and friends giving the BOSSES time to reconsider to create the necessary balance going forward..

    Prepare for a change of heart.

    The roars of the suppressors will cry out, as so too the cries of the oppressed will rise in their hearts.

    Will they fire the entire workforce?.. NO… IF they want a continuity of business.
    TO REFUSE TO WORK DOES NOT VIOLATE ANY LAW.
    They can refuse to pay for that week, likewise employees can take another holiday until sound statements of reconciliation are made.They will be identified as BAD EMPLOYERS who also have and are in deep commitments and cannot afford to lose their “investments” or their revenues, we all know they can do better.

    At this stage, the labor force is more than suffering to survive under the present designed and calculated economic conditions.

    Any complaint not addressed expediently initiates this protocol.

    Now is the time for Unions to mobilize and do that which they have been created to do or they too shall be listed, THE POWER IS IN THE HANDS OF THE COLLECTIVE EMPLOYEES to bring about change, not the Unions, for they too are govern by protocols yet can achieve much.

    UNIONS UNIFY UNITY.
    Governments govern.
    EMPLOYEES CREATE.

    Like

  • @Caswell Franklyn “They refused to carry out his instructions and told him that they would have to get permission from the insurance provider. ”

    What???

    This is completely idiotic.

    Like

  • Reblogged this on Caswell Franklyn’s Weblog.

    Like

  • I would suggest that a worker should submit a written request to their employer to stop the relevant deductions from their wages.

    If the deductions continue after the submission of the written request – the worker should write to their employer again – asking their employer for a written explanation as to why the deductions are continuing.

    The worker should raise the matter with the Labour Office – if their employer does not respond within a reasonable time – or wrongly states that the third party’s consent (e.g. a trade union) is required to stop making the deduction (e.g. a deduction for trade union membership fees). The worker should claim that their employer has made an unlawful deduction from their wages after they had withdrawn their consent to the deductions being made.

    Like

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