What is happening at our largest credit union?

For some time Barbados Underground has been expressing concern about the ‘noise’ emanating from the largest credit union in Barbados. For many Barbadians at home AND in the diaspora the Barbados Public Workers Cooperative Credit Union (BPWCCU) is seen as the alternative to the banks. It is therefore of concern to observe the quality of interventions being offered at meetings of the membership.

Unlike the banks members have the opportunity to participate in the affairs of the credit union by offering themselves to be elected to the Board of Directors, Supervisory and Credit Committees and tabling resolutions designed to improve the management of the credit union. The level of ‘filibustering’ routinely occurring at annual general meetings and special meeting called exposes a trend of a minority membership intent on showcasing a high level of ignorance and/or pursuing narrow interest at any cost.

The blogmaster understands items on the agenda to elect officers to the Board of Directors, Credit and Supervisory Committees had to be deferred at yesterday’s AGM because of an injunction – see AGM Agenda. The credit union movement in Barbados is being affected like many other entities because of the lack of quality individuals offering themselves to be elected to key positions. Instead, we have the same opportunistic actors working the system to rotate through available positions. Social media was abuzz last week at the news of a well known Barbados Labour Party (BLP) acolyte who is aggressively seeking to be nominated to the Board of Directors.

At yesterday’s meeting there was an attempt to have the meeting postponed because of the court order. Why would any person with a minimum of financial intelligence be unable to appreciate that other agenda items like the reports from the supervisory and credit committees are important to be reported on? The BPWCCU is not a rum shop, it is a financial company with a billion dollar balance sheet. One is left to wonder if members who attend AGMs and Special meetings are suffering from a variant of the Peter Principle. It is refreshing to observe a process that facilitates contributions from any member of the credit union. It was good sense prevailed with the resolution to postpone the meeting defeated, democracy at work.

Matters like the use of credit cards by officers of the credit union consume valuable time at AGMs. This is a type of matter management should address by gathering information on how best in class companies manage corporate credit cards and make the information available to membership to guide and lift the quality of discussion.

We should be able to discuss issues and intelligently arrive at a position of consensus in the interest of the greater good. Instead, we have the opposite occurring where all discussants are prepared to defend positions to the death at all cost, see a recent BU blog – Have we become too polarized?.

The blogmaster understands local regulatory bodies have to be circumspect about publicly commenting on matters affecting financial institutions. That said, it is obvious to anyone observing how the affairs of the large credit credit unions are being manged, a bigger effort must be made to encourage greater participation by members. If this is not done the case of stool floating to the top will challenge the efficient workings of one of our successful businesses.

35 thoughts on “What is happening at our largest credit union?

  1. Well cited! However, none of these problems are new.

    We are not persuaded that what happens in credit unions could be characterized as democratic when the playing field has been so purposefully distorted for so many decades.

    Indeed, these externalities have largely given us the internal dynamics one sees.

    Like in politics the credit union systems have always been disposed to their fair share of political yardfowls, mini dictators and some of the dullest knives in the drawer some seeking to impose ignorance in public places, pun intended.

    In these conditions, it’s a minor miracle relative success was possible. However, the time has long come for members to embrace a more sophisticated approach. And for full time politicians to stop support undemocratic market conditions.

    • ….In these conditions, it’s a minor miracle relative success was possible.
      @ Pacha
      Small correction please…
      The particular miracle involved there CANNOT be classified as ‘minor’….

    • It is strange traditional media has not highlighted this matter as far as the blogmaster is aware. Is local media running scared because same credit union has lodged a matter in the courts against Patrick King? No that cannot be a reason preventing a report on a matter that is public I.e. agenda items at Saturday’s AGM had to be deferred to comply with a court order. The matters we deems as priority continues to amaze a lowly blogmaster.

    • @Wily

      Nothing fails in first world countries? What precipitated the global crisis of 2007 2008 for example?

  2. It appears my credit union has similar issues. The CEO behaves as if it’s his fiefdom. He is also arrogant and impolite. The service leaves a lot to be desired, and nowadays I feel like I am in a banking establishing. No longer have a bank account.

  3. Today we learned that the second largest credit union behind BPWCCU is offering prizes to the first 100 attendees at their AGM to be held at the Hilton on Saturday. According to founder member Winston Alleyne the move is to encourage wider participation by its 67 thousand plus membership. Yo cannot make this stuff up.

  4. Finally!!!



    Injunction stops credit union’s bid to set term limits
    Voting of new officers to serve as directors of this country’s largest credit union was halted last Saturday pending the outcome of a court injunction.
    A challenge was mounted in the High Court by former president Glendon Belle over the Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union Limited’s (BPWCCUL) resolution to set limits on the time members can serve on its committees.
    Coincidentally, a similar resolution is to be voted on in the City of Bridgetown Cooperative Credit Union’s (COB) annual general meeting (AGM) slated for today.
    Chief executive officer of the BPWCCUL, Glyne Harrison, confirmed that they have received a mandate from members to contest the challenge to the resolution.
    “We were not able to proceed with the matters related to elections and we had to refer those to a future date. The members passed their resolution, and we have to act on behalf of the members. I can’t say much more on that because the injunction prevents us from speaking about it any further in the public domain,” Harrison said.
    As a result, the officers elected during the 52nd AGM will remain in place as such time that the 53rd can be completed.
    The Saturday Sun reached out to Belle, who declined to comment on his reasons for bringing the injunction.
    COB proposal
    Meanwhile, Winston Alleyne is bringing a similar proposal to COB.
    He is seeking an amendment to Bye-law 11(a) Subsection (ii) which states: “Directors shall serve for a term of three years, provided that at least two members retire each year.” The resolution states: “Be it resolved that persons who have cumulatively served on committees for 12 years or more, shall retire and shall not be eligible to serve in any elected office in the credit union.”
    Alleyne, a founding member of COB, explained that for too long the credit union had been “recycling the same members from one committee to the other”. He charged that this was denying the wider membership the opportunity to make their contribution.
    “[COB], having reached its 40th year as an organisation with a membership in excess of 60 000 [people], it is imperative to expand the involvement of a cross-section of its membership to bring new ideas to the organisation and facilitate the opportunity for this involvement to take place,” he said.
    He conceded he has received some opposition to the proposal but is expecting it to be successful today.
    “After 12 years you would have made your contribution and therefore it is time to let somebody else get a chance . . . . I heard one comment about continuity but my argument is that continuity does not reside in a board or committee.
    “Continuity resides in the employees and management that runs the credit union. You set a strategic plan and everybody follows it. When you go, the credit union should be able to continue without you, so that is not going to work as an excuse,” he said. (CLM)

    Source: Nation

  5. Sounds as if ‘serving’ on these committees represents a term of ‘sweetness’, and that this sugar should be shared around liberally.

    Bushie always thought that this was a call for self sacrifice and for neglecting family in order to serve the greater cooperative good, and that when such volunteers presented themselves, and provided good stewardship, that such persons would be valued, encouraged and supported in the greater interest of progress.

    However, these resolutions make it quite clear that what we have instead are a set of parasites jockeying for prime positions on the poor animal.
    No wonder the movement continues to languish in the wilderness while foreigners get themselves together and cooperate to take control of every valuable asset on the island.

    Poor people always tend to be fixated on rules that keep them poor and mendicant. Especially galling, appears to be the thought of a fellow brass bowl seeming to stand out from the crowd as an emerging leader.
    Gotta get that ladder down…..

    • @Bush Tea

      You know it is good when cannibalism becomes the priority. It is human nature.

  6. @ David
    When we can have such parasitical behaviors in an organisation which owes it existence to names such as Keith Bourne and Olive Trotman, one has to be taken aback by calls for term limits rather than calls for MORE Bournes and Trotmans. Obviously updated versions, but with similar commitment, dedication, honesty and performance….

    This call to ‘rotate the leadership’ sounds more like crabs trying to grab their personal share than anything else.
    Why not a call to judge performance against the standards set by the past stalwarts?

    It reminds Bushie of ‘Alvin’ on Brass Tacks every damn day talking shiite about people being on ‘contract’. This idea that employees are owed a salary whether or not they perform, “so that they can qualify to get a loan or mortgage” is the thinking of a slave.

    Any employee or contract worker who is NOT making a positive contribution to their organisation should be sent packing. In which case being on contract frees a good producer to maximize earnings from multiple employers, OR by personal high productivity.

    “By the sweat of a man’s brow shall he eat bread” is a very practical maxim that actually works.
    No sweat? …then look for biscuits boss

    • @Bush Tea

      The call for term limits is to encourage wider participation? Isn’t that the objective to mesh with your position?

    • @David, if you have to literally ‘mandate’ wider participation by term-limiting those who ‘selflessly’ – as the Bushman suggests- give of their time or even those who may be participating for personal rewards in a COOPERATIVE movement then you have already LOST!

      It’s self explanatory what “offering prizes to the first 100 attendees at their AGM” means!

      It’s comical in one sense to read all the talk of self empowerment etc and then read about a CEO of a cooperative movement being ‘arrogant’ and ‘impolite’…. Comical because it seems as if we actually EXPECT anything different… from these bank manager professionals .

      It’s indeed some 40 plus years ago when I recall a young lady whose older brother I had known previously as a scout left her job at BS&T to go work for the fledgling COB … I joined shortly thereafter then too. So yes a long time now and since then banking in Bim has been changed completely … yet here we are lamenting coop members NOT attending meetings and moving it’s governance forward….

      When in fact the real upside is that over those years there has been a MASSIVE expansion of the ‘middle-class’ HAVES as a result of COB, BPWCCU and the slew of other smaller buying co-ops etc… so many Bajans have ‘arrived’ and whether we want to accept it or not the awesome work of the Bournes, Doyles etc has been so fantastic that the professionals running the co-ops now more resemble the traditional bank managers professionals of years than anything else.

      The ole ‘four legs good, two legs bad’ until of course it morphs into ‘four legs good, two legs better’!

      So things are better, not so … or at least a better level of acceptance for larger numbers of satisfied Bajans!… who needs to attend ornery meetings !

    • Eh, re: “You have moved the goalposts.” @David, how so!

      Participation as you suggested in a co-op movement is by definition EXPECTED … it’s the reason for being of the organization, not so!

      So if you have to re-incentivize members to come out and participate it’s bruggadung … so what are ye, then!

      And I claim poetic license re definition of middle-class. Not trying to be precise along social science norms… here I refer to the large swath of Bajans who have built nice houses, drive nice cars, send children to be educated and take those many annual vacations over those last 40 years.

      I see the credit union movement writ large as a LARGE contributor to all that … directly so and also indirectly as it also helped folks become more educated and aware of management of their finances.

      Anyhow, I gone.

    • @Dee Word

      If there is an obvious problem that has emerged to block the progress of the movement, doesn’t leadership require interventions of some kind?

  7. Wide participation?
    You mean like getting more brass bowls involved? – who are mainly interested in getting a Crop over costume or a trip overseas?

    Much like making national decisions based on Petra’s polls…?

    Which part of identifying, refining and maximizing genuine TALENT that produce results ..do you fail to grasp?
    Why do you think our politics is so shitty? can you ask for even wider participation?
    ….or do we need QUALITY…?

    • @Bush Tea

      How does the credit union get quality members to participate? Isn’t a key attribute of a credit union the right of members to receive participate as they wish? Why does the brown stuff keep floating to the top?

    • The blogmaster understands the motion to amend the bylaw to restrict members from serving more than 12 years on committees was voted down.

  8. Why is it the brown stuff is floating to the top?
    Because there is ONLY ONE source of true wisdom, and we have CHOSEN to follow the ‘alternative capitalistic wisdom’ of the albino centric RATHER than adopt THAT ONLY source.

    Consider for example, the old traditional AFRICAN tradition of following the tried and proven ‘Village Elders’ and being guided by their wisdom and experience – as against this albino centric ‘democratic election shiite’ that works by ‘popularity’ (‘popularity’ being the ability to poll where brass bowls are headed, and quickly rushing to the front).

    What results would you expect…? not what we are seeing..?

    How long has Xi been running China?
    How long has Putin been running Russia?
    Are these top performing countries? …or do you prefer Italy, UK, USA etc where they rotate clueless brass bowls based on their financial ability to buy popularity? …and are all on the brink of bankruptcy..?

    How long will you be misled by the folly of the albino-centric..?

    • @Bush Tea

      Wow, you are wading into the deep esoteric stuff. Systems of governance emerge from crucible moments in history. The Eurocentric culture we have claimed explains why we are inclined to make certain decisions. The countries you mentioned have walked a different path and explains how their culture has developed to be what it is today?

    • Absolutely @David and it’s rather absurd for a man as learned as the BushGriot to jump on his soap box as he has.

      The forms of governance between a dictatorship and a more ‘free flowing’ democratic system cannot be so simplistically detailed as he did.

      It’s a nonsense to suggest that China or Russia has evolved wonderfully well when compared to US, UK, France or Italy. An absolute NONSENSE.

      Ah well, carry on smartly. It sounds good to say that there would never be widespread dissent as seen in France, for example, in Russia or China (Tiananmen Sq, excepted) because they just run things better… yep, sounds good to me!

  9. @ Dribbler
    No time for lukewarm argument….

    30 years ago, China was a global back woods….
    Russia was a failed state – after Reagan got Gorbachov to surrender.

    Today, both China and Russia have beaten the albino centrics at THEIR OWN GAME, to the extent that they are now marked for fates similar to those of Libya and Iraq.

    These are just BASIC FACTS.

    People such as us, (because of thinking such as yours,) will NEVER replicate this ’success’ for the following reasons..
    1 – We (wunna) have adopted albino-centric minds such that ’success’ means Euro-Centric success. (mental slavery)
    2 – Yet, wunna do NOT have the albino-centric ‘KILLER instinct’ that is needed for cut-throat capitalistic ’success’.
    3 – We blacks, the ORIGINAL peoples, have NO IDEA of our NATURAL POWER. (even the blogmaster cannot conceptualize how we could possibly ‘make it’ without the ‘masters guidance’…

    So, Russia’s move in Ukraine would NEVER have been undertaken by Saddam or Gaddafi – which is why they BOTH ended up dead …and their people destroyed.

    China WILL take even more decisive and devastating ACTION very soon, unless the USA steps back from their aggressive stance against what they see as more effective albino-centric ’success’ from China.

    Obviously, TRUE success is an altogether OTHER matter.

    However Bushie’s point is that EVEN in the limited concept being promoted here on BU as ’success’ we have effectively been ruled out of the global game – mainly by our own closed minds.

    There are none so blind as those that refuse to see…

    • @Bush Tea

      The blogmaster agrees with Dee Word that it is an overreach to compare how China and Russia manage their respective affairs to Barbados.

    • COB members vote against term limits
      THE BID TO introduce term limits for members serving on committees of the City of Bridgetown Cooperative Credit Union (COB) has been soundly defeated.
      Last Saturday, the motion, which was brought by COB founding member Winston Alleyne, was voted down 134 to 20 during the credit union’s annual general meeting at the Hilton Barbados.
      The resolution sought an amendment to by-law 11(a) Subsection (ii) which states: “Directors shall serve for a term of three years, provided that at least two members retire each year”.
      The resolution called for persons who have cumulatively served on committees for 12 years or more, to retire and not be eligible to serve in any elected office in the credit union.
      COB president Dr Lynette Holder told the DAILY NATION that the membership spoke loudly, making it clear that such a measure was not needed at this juncture. She said that members decided that any limitations on who should serve on the board and various committees of the credit union, must solely be decided during the annual electoral process.
      “The membership spoke loudly on this issue, they felt that this was not where they wanted their credit union to go at this time. The members were satisfied that we have enough of a definition in the Act and the bylaws to speak to this matter. There was no need, based on the vote to introduce term limits at this time. We feel that we allow members to serve, and it is the members who determine who serves, through the electoral process,” Holder said.
      A similar motion was passed by the Barbados Public Workers’ Cooperative Credit Union Limited’s (BPWCCUL), which is now the subject of a High Court Injunction. Chief executive officer of the BPWCCUL, Glyne Harrison, has since confirmed that they have received a mandate from members
      to contest the legal challenge to the resolution.
      In the lead-up to COB’s AGM, in explaining his rationale for the resolution, Alleyne said that for too long the credit union had been “recycling the same members from one committee to the other”. He charged that this was denying the wider membership the opportunity to make their contribution.
      “[COB], having reached its 40th year as an organisation with a membership in excess of 60 000 [people], it is imperative to expand the involvement of a cross-section of its membership to bring new ideas to the organisation and facilitate the opportunity for this involvement to take place,” he said then.

      Source: Nation

    • The blogmaster agrees with Dee Word that it is an overreach to compare how China and Russia manage their respective affairs to Barbados.
      So does Bushie…

      Russia and China are genuine albino-centric players. In fact they have proven to be better at that cut-throat game that the original players.

      Bajan Brass bowls do NOT compare, so it is indeed an overreach…

      But who was comparing?
      Bushie was simply using examples of how the game CAN be played in a way that upsets the Euro-centric apple cart. However this requires levels of ruthlessness and self-focus (such as Russia attacking Ukraine and China’s aggressive trading strategies) that that are not in the playbook of brass bowls.

  10. The Solution
    The Solution for success of the African Diaspora is simple and obvious
    It is also the White Man’s worst nightmare
    1. Caribbean Nations declare themselves as African Nations
    2. Play the long game and develop the Africa Continent

    • It should be obvious our largest credit union has been generating too much negative news in recent years. There must be a plan put in place to retrieve the bad situation quickly. The last thing the credit union needs is a lack in confidence.

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