Submitted by Paula Sealy
Labour needs to have a voice at the table. In the past this meant the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) had its senior officers contest general elections. It was also common for the General Secretary of the BWU to be nominated as a Senator at the pleasure of the Governor General. It is assumed this practice will continue with the President of the Republic as the Head of State.
I remember PM Mottley speaking of trade union leaders of the past who served as politicians during the 2020 St. George North by-election campaign. We were reminded of the work of the unionists we now recognise as National Heroes.
Mottley was in her pomp. She proudly said that she “went for Toni” to ensure that labour had a voice. This statement should have caused tremors across the rank and file of organised labour. It insinuated that labour was voiceless.
A man known for his love of philosophy and habitual philosophical utterances, it was the view of Freundel Stuart that the Social Partnership was a philosophical absurdity.
At the end of the Mottley administration, that comment has been proven to be profound. He was right. If the Social Partnership serves labour as well as the government and the private sector would there be any need for Toni Moore or any union leader to be seated in the Lower House today? There is the insinuation that labour remains voiceless otherwise. This is an insult to the working class.
If the BLP courtship of Moore sought to consolidate labour and license its voice, why should we expect the rights and interests of workers to be acknowledged by the social partners under normal circumstances? Ask Caswell. This represents the philosophical absurdity and identifies the trade union movement as a blunt object among sharp knives in the Partnership.
If the Partnership accommodates labour and there is a Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations have the Minister, Permanent Secretary and Chief Labour Officer been on vacation been during the nurses’ strike?
The DLP announced its candidate for St. Michael South East and another union leader has thrown his hat into the ring. This is another hat for him to add to that of teacher, poultry farmer, political party officer and real estate vendor.
He has said that he always wanted to be an MP. The BUT was always a means to an end. But to what end for the union?
The image of trade union leaders will not improve for his ambition.