The Caswell Franklyn Column – Government Refuses to Own its Failures

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

I’ve often said that statements made by ministers of government, at party meetings, should come with a warning that those statements are intended only to rally the party faithful, and should not be taken seriously.

The Daily Nation of March 13, 2018 reported that the Minister of Labour, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo, while addressing a joint branch meeting two days earlier, charged that some employers were deliberately ignoring notices to appear before the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT) to deal with cases against them. She went on to say that some believed if they employed stalling tactics, it would stop the cases from moving forward, and claimed that this has led to a backlog of cases.

I hope that in real life (outside of branch meetings) the minister knows that her claim is fanciful. I make bold to say that the backlog of cases results more from government’s failure to provide resources that would enable the work of the ERT to proceed in a timely manner.

The ERT consists of nine members: the chairman and two deputy chairmen, who must be attorneys-at-law; three members nominated by the most representative organisation of employers; and three members nominated by the most representative organisation of employees.

A panel of three persons, one from each category, shall constitute a tribunal to hear a complaint. Simple arithmetic would suggest that three panels would be able to hear cases simultaneously. Unfortunately, Government has only provided enough staff to allow one panel to function at a time. Also, as presently constituted the lawyers, who chair each panel, are employed full time in private practice. As a result, they can only attend to the business of the ERT when they get breaks in their busy schedules. All of this more than anything else contributes to the ERT cases being chronically delayed. I know of cases that were filed in 2014 that have not been assigned to a panel to be heard, even though all the necessary paperwork has been completed.

The minister should not attempt to make scapegoats out of employers for government’s failures, in this regard. A backlog caused by the failure of employers to appear could only indicate that the tribunal would be inadequately discharging its functions. The ERT has remedies available to it to prevent the type of abuse that the was suggested by her. Firstly, the prescribed summons, for persons to appear before the ERT, comes with a warning that says:

“If you fail to obey this summons in any respect without reasonable excuse, you are liable to punishment in the same manner as for contempt of the High Court”.

Secondly, notwithstanding that warning, the ERT always had the power to hear and determine a matter if a party fails to appear.

Government’s failure, to put resources in place to have timely hearings of complaints, have resulted in unscrupulous employers saying to unfairly dismissed workers; take a fraction of the compensation due and sign a release or wait three years for a hearing. Sadly, some claimants have accepted the pittance rather than endure a penniless wait for justice.

Workers in this country do not need finger pointing and excuses from the Government; they need protection.

It would be remiss of me if I did not comment on government’s rejection of proposals to increase public sector wages. This administration is behaving as though it has already lost the upcoming elections and does not care what happens.

As I understand it, there were three proposals on the table: one union was asking for an increase of 23%; another was asking for 15%; and the Government proposed a one-off coping subsidy. Even though I can understand but do not agree that Government could totally reject the unions’ proposals; I find it hard to fathom how it can reject its own proposal.

The only thing that makes sense to me is if the administration is trying to lose the elections. Some time ago the Prime Minister promised that heads would roll if he discovered that there was an internal plot to remove him from office. Could it be that he has finally found out?


  • Caswell

    Which government anywhere in Christendom has ever accepted its failures.

    Certainly, this DLP should not be expected to distinguish itself in that way

    Neither will the next, nor the last.

    Caswell, you are fixing to elect a government which has at least one man whose raison detre is to talk as much shiiiite as possible, for as long as possible, and then brag about how much pseudo-intellectualism he can impose on the public record.

    He’s a short man, like Napoleon.

    Barbados has done a fair job in keeping him out thus far but we doubt that resistance will surpass the coming public relations exercise.

    Should accountability not also preempt this pending failure as well?

    Accountability what!


  • Hamilton A Hill

    The unions involved begged for this public exposure of their obsolescence. This is what happens when the meaning of duty free is taken to a brand new level……….apparently it also means that professional duties are abdicated….wha is de song that Classic win de crown wid? Oh yea ..IN BED TOGETHER!


  • Hamilton A Hill

    An administration that asked you to hold strain and promised no layoffs if you did, reneged and embarked on a campaign of mass redundancy once it won a second term, and you believed that they were capable of negotiating in good faith? ….really?


  • Hamilton A Hill

    Mr Akanni McDowall told David Ellis this past Friday that the NUPW had increased its membership numbers……Billy goat bajans too love punishment.


  • Billy goat bajans too love punishment.
    Billy goats are not that dumb.
    You mean brass bowl……


  • Hamilton A Hill

    I stand corrected Bush tea….if both of these sorry ass excuses for workers representatives had done what needed to be done wicked ass fumble could not be doing wha he doing now.


  • Well Well & Cut N' Paste At Your Service

    Cant say it enough, all these moochers of the public purse calling themselves, ministers, senators, cabinet members, leaches do is lie to the public….a steady diet of lies.


  • Jeff Cumberbatch

    Spot on with the comments re the ERT, Caswell. Quick, effective justice is supposed to be the hallmark of the Tribunal system. Indeed???


  • “Even though I can understand but do not agree that Government could totally reject the unions’ proposals”

    Caswell, you need to understand: Barbados is BANKRUPT. The island even lacks the funds to fix the sewage system. There is no money for any wage hike. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not in a year. Not in five years.

    It is not the duty of the taxpayer to nourish 30,000 civil servants for working 20 hours per week. The Barbadian civil service is no welfare agency.


  • The challenge with the public service is not about numbers, it is about growing efficiencies fueled by performance based management systems. The days of negotiating blanket increases with little to zero accountability is for a dinosaur era. We always focus on people and not systems supported by the right culture.


  • David

    You are quite right.

    These unions cannot continue as before

    This was clear since 1991 circa

    The real failure is not having a strategic response.


  • Things that make me go hum!!

    The real failure is the People! @ Tron – The country is bankrupt yet the Government continues to spend money jonesing. The South Coast issue is becoming a major headache for all, but DEM can borrow money to give poor people (aka welfare country pulldowns, lazy buggers that refuse to find employment-living off of hard working tax payers earnings – the same tax payers that are unable to see their tax returns since 2014, because the Government has become a Sugar Daddy for the ” poor”) a Credit Card.


  • This DLP government has been lacking leadership since 2009.CTUSAB,the BWU and the NUPW all lack quality leadership.They are all in the same boat and the instructions are to the rank and file : Don’t rock de boat.The Unions and the DLP are bedfellows and if workers cannot see that then they are blind.
    If tomorrow the BLP forms the next government watch how the QEH,the Police,the Prisons,the Fire Service,SSA,Teachers,Jenkins,the Almhouses,Westbury Cemetery,the Lighthouses,the Defence Force,Licensing Authority,the Traffic Wardens,the ZR’s,the Seaport,the Airport,BAMP,BARP,Resolution Life formerly Clico,Cost U Less,Massy,Pricemart….everything in Barbados will be going on strike the next week and Mia will have to drop all the plans to make Stuart and all the Cabinet and MP’s pay back into the Treasury every red cent they got in fees and perks from March 7th to the date of Election 2018 and convene the House and legislate increased salaries forthwith.


  • Oh and Darwin Dottin will be appointed to the Senate and made Minister of Justice with firm instructions to clean up the mess in the Police Service,the Courts,the Registry where documents cannot be found or staff will not make the effort to locate because they ‘over by the Police Station,they ent move up hey yet’ and Natlee will be appointed to the Senate compliments of the GG and made spokesperson for the Racing Fraternity and those less fortunate in our society.


  • Caswell Franklyn


    You said:

    “The challenge with the public service is not about numbers, it is about growing efficiencies fueled by performance based management systems…

    I must disagree; it is about both.

    Firstly, there are too many persons in the public service at the senior levels, with nothing to do but Government feels that it has to find work for all those graduates that UWI Cave Hill continues to churn out. Then we have eight more ministries than this country needs and with those additional ministries come 8 permanent secretaries, 8 deputy permanent secretaries, 8 senior administrative officers, 8 finance officers and the list goes on.

    Pray tell me why it is necessary to have: The Ministry of Education and also The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport, both of them cater to the development of our children; Ministry of Health and also a Ministry of the Environment and Drainage. I could go on but I think that you see my point.

    We would also see the lost of 8 Ministers and 8 personal assistants.

    The Public Service has too many chiefs and not enough Indians to do the work.


  • Caswell Franklyn


    My previouscomment on this post seems to be going astray


  • @Caswell Franklyn March 25, 2018 at 4:51 PM #

    You are the right man to lead the unions to a better future, man!


  • @ Tron
    Caswell Franklyn March 25, 2018 at 4:51 PM #
    You are the right man to lead the unions to a better future, man!
    Give it up Tron
    Bushie has been trying to BUP that into Caswell’s head now for YEARS…
    Unfortunately, both he and Ping Pong consider themselves to be ‘helpless’….
    The truly talented people just don’t know their potential POWER…..

    Wunna just lucky that Bushie already gotta big pick…. 🙂


  • Frustrated Businessman: Animal Farm sequel playing out in Bim.

    Gov’t bureaucrats continue to put laws, regulations, offices, boards, institutions, licenses, permissions, services etc. in place that we do not have the resources to administer.

    They have no skills to manage situations, so they compensate in the only way they know how.

    When you are a hammer, every problem is a nail.

    Imagine a rum shop owner making plans to pass on his/her business to a halfwit heir by writing down all the management knowledge needed to to keep the business growing.


    This country has a rum-shop society and economy but the Bureaucrats have been trained to think like English lawyers.

    Not a practical human being among them; they all get paid and go home at the end of the day with nothing done, happy in the knowledge that they are little useless cogs and a giant useless machine.

    For the past 25 years, progress has only been made by people who can bi-pass the system. Under DLP governance, that was done by getting the ear of a minister who would kick the civil service into action. Under DLP governance, that was done by paying a minister or civil servant.

    Either way, this glass house of bullshit regulations needs to shatter if we are to make any real progress.


  • @Caswell

    “The Public Service has too many chiefs and not enough Indians to do the work.”

    I totally disagree, the Public Service has TOOOO many CHIEFS and INDIANS controlled by irresponsible UNIONS. Union days are numbered, Caswell you should be scouting for more stable employment opportunity.


  • Wily Coyote why are you so anti-union? The problem is not the union but the management in government!


  • Hear listening to KIM Tudor talking lots of folly on VOB the People’s Parliament. Kim Tudor the two organizations NISE and the PRODUCTIVITY COUNCIL have failed miserably!


  • KIM Tudor all you talking has been around for over two decades and poor management in government stopped increased productivity. Too many of management in government got there by who they knew, which school, church, any other organizations they are in, rewards for news carrying etc. Hence all management can really do is talk people’s business, and look to continue their bad behaviour. And how can you say Management in government is productive and yet the departments they head are not?


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