Another Heather Cole Column – Something Happening

Stedson Wiltshire (Red Plastic Bag) gave a vivid description of what is seen on Kadooment Day in a calypso song entitled Something Happening. The joyful song presents a stark contrast to the sobering reality unfolding in Barbados. With a backdrop of Covid-19, the cause of labour unrest is deeply disturbing as it is related to changes in the Severance Pay Act and the refusal of some hotels to pay their potion of the workers’ severance pay. As the reality of this crisis sets in, anguish, lack of information, confusion and frustration confront a large section of the population and now a once docile people seem to be erupting. Protests have become a fixture on the landscape with 40% unemployed predominately in the tourism sector; no one knows how this will end but something is definitely happening.

There is no comparison in recent history to what is now unfolding. Complexity and growth of the economy makes it distinct from the 1930’s but it is noteworthy that there was no labour union to prevent the downward spiral that culminated in the 1937 riots in Barbados. Trade unionism came into existence after the riots to protect the rights of labour in 1941. What is mindboggling is that it was out of the struggle of the black working class that both the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) and the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) were conceived and born. Now the relationship is akin to 2 children abandoning their mother. This should never have become a matter of political expediency as the BWU depends on the black working class for financial support and the Barbados Labour party depends on the black working class (the largest voting group) for votes. The action of both has shown that they have joined forces and abandoned this class.

In contrast with the song, one can see questionable union actions. One can query the BWU’s agreement to the BEST Program as it offers less than favourable relief to the workers than to the hotels. The program provides financial assistance to hotels and a wage subsidy to workers but no severance. It was stated that only $30 Million of the $300 Million dollars has been taken by the hotels. Part of the remaining $ 270 Million dollars can be used as severance for the workers. Essentially the BEST program is fundamentally flawed as it does not contain a severance payment option.

One can also query why the recently held press conference only resulted in a solution for the workers of Club Barbados and did not take into consideration the thousands of other unemployed workers. What was required is an across the board solution for the hotel industry and any other affected industries. There were so many twists and turns regarding the story of the workers of Club Barbados that it is difficult to decipher but yet it does not justify treatment as a special case as it leaves out others whose plight is the same.

Both the Prime Minister and Ms. Moore chastised the Media but one cannot imagine how the secret of 40% unemployed in Barbados could be kept, not discussed or their protests not covered if they take to the streets. A fair Press is not the enemy of the people. Highlighting these stories humanized the suffering of the workers. They became real people with real problems and in need of real solutions. We all felt their pain. Change is never a factor that comes into play with silence or secrecy; with them ignorance pervades. What the media can do in addition to highlighting the protest is to utilize the top corner of the new paper to daily post unemployment numbers, NIS payouts as a show of solidarity with the workers and carry stories of how this crisis has affected individual persons and neighbourhoods.

One can see government as having created an environment for the lack of trust. The role of government in any democratic society is to provide an enabling environment for all to flourish. This is exhibited in the provision of social services and laws. When the Severance Payment Act was amended in August 2020, the reason for its changes and the why now could not be justified as it was the midst of the current pandemic. The changes now extend the layoff period from 13 to 22 weeks before they can file for severance and that employees must give 4 weeks notice to the employer prior to the end of the 22 weeks period. It also states that the employer can contest severance. It is a punitive amendment to the law and has led to much confusion and ultimately the amended act is disadvantageous as the underlying principle is to disqualify workers from obtaining severance payments. The level of confidence in the government with regards to the treatment to workers is now at an all-time low.

One can also see that this is not only an economic issue. It is also a matter of social justice. Less than favourable treatment has been meted out to one specific class of the population; the black working class. The same people who for almost 400 years have been feeling the brunt of what occurs in the Barbadian society. This class has the highest rate of unemployment, highest incidence of crime, the highest rate of minimum wages, have a high cost of living, poor housing, reduced access to potable water, are in need of proper roads and combined they pay the highest taxes. The only positive thing that they as a group possess is votes at election time. It is these same people who are in need and are being denied the money that should be theirs. One of the women, a former Club Barbados worker lamented that she feels like George Floyd with the weight of someone’s foot on her neck and that she could not breathe. Do their lives and livelihood matter?

One hopes that now we are in the post Nelson era, that governance comes with an aspect of social justice; that no decisions are made on the behalf of the people without consideration of how the disadvantaged black working class will be affected and that there will be a living wage, programs put in place not for pit toilets but for creating wealth to remove vicious the cycle of poverty. If the opportunity to create wealth can be provided to the already privileged it should also be provided to the black working class. The government saw it fit to compulsorily acquire property on Bay Street to give to a developer. It must also do the same for the black working class through co-operatives for agriculture, business development and housing. It is hoped that laws which still seem to be derived from the slave codes will be removed from the laws of Barbados. This is in reference to laws being written from the punitive point of view of ‘let us deny them that colonial mentality’; as though some things are still just too good for the black working class of Barbados.

The irony of these developments is that both the BWU and BLP have bitten the hand that feeds them.

A Hunte for Moore

The selection by the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) of General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) Toni Moore to run in St. George North has piqued the interest of political pundits. BLP representatives have been quick to defend by representing a view many political parties at home and abroad find deep roots in the labour movement. It cannot be denied the two main political parties have had the benefit of a strong relationship with the trade union movement, over the years unionists have served as members of the Upper and Lower Chambers.

What makes Toni Moore’s appointment interesting for some, the appointment has come against the backdrop of an incumbent government that won all 30 seats in parliament, until Bishop Reverend Joseph Atherley fill the vacancy of Leader of the Opposition (the subject of other blogs and commenters for years to come) to avert a constitutional crisis.- the outcome of a court filing by Grenville Phillips II to challenge the appointment of Atherley is pending.

The unholy haste with which Moore was made a member of the BLP, the exit of Gline Clarke from a safe seat at midterm to jet off to serve as Ambassador to Canada to replace Reginald Farley, who was recalled to fill the vacancy left by former President of the Senate Sir Richard Cheltenham, whose brother Patterson Cheltenham was recently appointed Chief Justice… Some believe Mottley is playing a long game by including youthful, bright and influential actors to ensure the BLP can be sustained as a relevant entity for years to come. One only has to compare to the Democratic Labour Party since the departure of Errol Barrow to appreciate the importance of succession and human resources planning.

The Trade Union movement represents the organized economic power of the workers…it is in reality the most potent and the most direct social insurance the workers can establish.

Samuel Gompers

The blogmaster does not have a dog in the fight and having listened to all the arguments for and against the decision by Mottley to run Toni Moore, remains unconvinced that it serves the best interest of labour at this time. The strength of labour has been considerably diminished during 12 years of economic hardship post the global meltdown 2007- with COVID-19 the economic forecast/outlook remains bleak in the near to medium term. If there ever was a time workers need a focussed, strident representation from the largest trade union in Barbados, it is now.

The resignation of Toni Moore from the Senate, a simple exercise made clandestine by the lack of transparency, created the opportunity to appoint a replacement to represent labour in the Upper Chamber. The selection by the Governor General of Julian Hunte is interesting for a number of reasons. At the top of the blogmaster’s mind is that Hunte was the BWU general secretary in waiting and training until Toni Moore, to the surprise of many and the backing of her predecessor, got to drive the merk. The appointment of Hunte to replace Moore in the Senate is therefore riddled with irony. Hunte fled to the private sector and currently serves at the UWI, Cave Hill as Assistant Registrar for Industrial Relations.

The question in the blogmaster’s mind is – can the interest of labour be better served by Senator Julian Hunte while detached from a trade union? In the period Hunte represents the labour segment in the Upper Chamber will he shine like a beacon the consequence of which leads to a reentry to the BWU or other trade union? Is is obvious there is opportunity given the dearth of leadership in the trade movement.

Power to the people!

LIFO in 2018?

The following statement was issued by Toni Moore, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU). The blogmaster confesses the statement raised many questions regarding the retrenchment exercise government is committed to executing as part of BERT.

  1. Why in 2018 the LIFO is the method used to identify workers to sever from the public service? Toni Moore hinted in her statement that the PRDS (a performance system) does not command the confidence of the BWU. We have to ask why?
  2. How does government expect to change the culture of the civil service using LIFO as the basis to send home workers?
  3. Prime Minister Mia Mottley has repeatedly stated that the government has held several meetings with the social partnership to ensure all are on the same page. Did we hear Toni Moore suggest that there is some confusion with the execution of the retrenchment.
  4. What is the objective of government’s retrenchment exercise? Is it a cost cutting measure or is the government sincere in the suggestion that obsolete functions have been retired

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Trade Union Misrepresentation | Where the BWU failed a Member

Caswell Franklyn, Unity Workers Union

In 1939 Parliament, by way of the Trade Disputes (Arbitration and Enquiry) Act, put a mechanism in place to deal with trade disputes. The act defines a trade dispute as, “any dispute or difference between employers and workmen, or between workmen and workmen, connected with the employment or non-employment, or the terms of the employment, or with the conditions of labour, of any person”.

It provides that any party to a dispute could report the matter to the Governor-General, who is empowered to appoint one or more arbitrators to hear and determine the matter, provided that both parties agree. The decision of the arbitrator would then be binding on both parties. Unfortunately for Barbados, trade unions have refused to utilise this method of dispute resolution for a number of reasons, but mainly because it would have deprived them of the opportunity to demonstrate their power to instil fear in the hearts of employers. That legislation remains in force and unused to this day.

Rather than use the law to promote dispute resolution, The Barbados Workers’ Union devised an alternative method, where disputes would be referred to the Chief Labour Officer for conciliation. If there is no resolution at that level, the matter would then be referred to the Minister of Labour, and ultimately to the Prime Minister, where no settlement is reached by the Labour Minster. Bear in mind that this system is voluntaristic and not binding on either party, but it really made successive Ministers of Labour feel as though they were being useful.

Mind you, from my experience, the union would only refer the matter to the Prime Minister when it found itself in an untenable position and needed to climb down and save face in the process. Of course, the climb-down would be accompanied by the the usual refrain – we settled out of respect for the office of Prime Minister.

With the coming into force of the Employment Rights Act, a new regime has replaced the voluntaristic approach for dealing with unfair dismissals. It has preserved a role for the Chief Labour Officer, as a conciliator only, but has made no provisions for the intervention of either the Minister of Labour or the Prime Minister.

Unfortunately, this nonsense of appealing to the Chief Labour Officer, in accordance with collective agreements still persist. Apparently, this is a case of old habits dying hard. Thankfully, a panel of the Employment Rights Tribunal, consisting of Kathy-A. Hamblin, Frederick Forde and Edward Bushell, has now put this misconception to rest, by what will only be a seminal ruling in the case involving Nicole Layne and G4S Security Solutions (Barbados) Limited.

In the first ground of appeal, the union alleged that the company “deliberately delayed processing [her] appeal as a consequence of which she was denied due process”. In dismissing that ground the tribunal observed:

“Later in his closing statement, Sir Roy also noted that the “Collective Agreement calls on us to meet without delay and resolve any differences.” If he was there suggesting that the disciplinary process should have proceeded from the outset in accordance with the terms of the Collective Agreement, rather than in accordance with the provisions of the Act, then he would have misconstrued the hierarchical position of the legislation in relation to that Agreement. Neither custom nor a private contractual arrangement takes precedence over the Act. The appeals process is the same whether an employee is unionised or not”.

The tribunal found in favour of the company but was constrained to note:

“This Claimant relied to her detriment on her Trade Union, which laboured under the misconception that an appeal lies as of right to the Chief Labour Officer in accordance with the terms of the parties’ Collective Agreement. The Union also based its “right” to appeal to the Chief Labour Officer on the Claimant’s behalf on custom or practice, disregarding the Act altogether”.

I can sympathise with some workers if they are not familiar with the provisions of the Employment Rights Act but I extend no such sympathy to persons who hold themselves out as workers’ or employers’ representatives.

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Trade Unions Accepting Bribes/Concessions from Government

While addressing the last annual general conference of her union, the General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Toni Moore, complained about what she saw as union busting tactics being employed by Cost-U-Less. She sought to connect the granting of duty free concessions by Government as the reason why that company felt “empowered” to engage in such tactics.

To be honest, that reasoning escaped me but somehow it was sufficient to bring down the ire of the Honourable Chris Sinckler, on her. And in a nonsensical retort, while addressing his party faithful he claimed that it was logical to conclude that since Government has given the General Secretary and the BWU tax concessions on a Mercedes Benz, Ms Moore felt empowered to be bashing Government.

If that is the quality of the reasoning of the person who holds the portfolio of Minister of Finance, it is no wonder that the country is in such dire straits. The General Secretary has raised an issue that impinges on the constitutional rights of workers. Any half decent minister of the Crown would have been grateful for that information and join her in an effort to protect the dignity of the workers of this country, whom he is sworn to serve. What has made this minister so cocky that he can make light and be so disrespectful of the genuine concerns of the people whose votes he would be seeking in the upcoming elections.

Even though his behaviour is below that expected of a senior political figure, he has drawn attention to two issues, tax concessions and union busting. They are too serious to be sidestepped by the dismissive twattle of a government minister, who is more interested in providing comic relief for party members, at a branch meeting, than dealing with fundamental workers’ rights issues.

Union busting has become so pervasive, especially during this prolonged recession and the authorities have failed to adequately deal with the problem for the sake of maintaining jobs. Ms Moore has correctly stated that people are losing jobs because they have committed the cardinal sin of becoming union members.

In accordance with section 40A of the Trade Union Act, it is a crime to dismiss a worker because he has become a member of a trade union. However, in my experience, the police were not aware that it constitutes a criminal offence. Unfortunately, when such a matter is reported to police, they do not take it seriously and no action is taken against the offending employer.

In an attempt to put the General Secretary on the back foot, the minister revealed that BWU had benefited from tax concessions on a Mercedes Benz. However, in my opinion, while trying to embarrass Ms Moore, the minister effectively shot himself in the foot. He must now explain the basis for granting tax concessions on high end vehicles for the two major unions.

Before I go further, I must make it clear that I am not accusing any trade unionists of wrongdoing, by accepting charity from employers. But to me, as the Americans would say, the optics are bad.

If you were to hire a lawyer to represent you in a matter, and thereafter, discover that your representative was taking undisclosed gifts from your opponent. How would you feel? Now pray tell me, how is that different for trade unions to take undisclosed concessions/gifts from the employer, especially when the law requires disclosure.

In accordance with the Duties, Taxes and Other Payments (Exemption) Act, the Minister of Finance may, by order, exempt any person, business or undertaking from the payment of any duty, tax or other money. However, section 4 of that act provides that any such order is subject to negative resolution.

Section 41.(2) of the Interpretation Act explains, when a statutory instrument is subject to negative resolution, it must be laid in Parliament for forty days, and during that period, either house can by resolution vote to annul the instrument. Any such order must also be published in the Official Gazette.

I have made a diligent search and can find no evidence that any such order was ever published. I am therefore asking the honourable minister, when did he comply with the law, in relation to granting tax concessions on motor vehicles for the leaders of major trade unions? And if he had not done so, why the secrecy?

Champagne taste and mauby pockets have brought trade unions into disrepute.

General Secretary Caswell Franklyn of Unity Workers Union Accuses BWU of Being Irresponsible in the CBC Strike Matter


Veteran trade unionist and General Secretary of the Unity Workers’ Union, Caswell Franklyn says the Barbados Workers Union only wants to show its might rather than being right.

Mr. Franklyn says there should be no dispute over the increments issue which was negotiated.

He adds that the actions like those being taken by the BWU have hurt the union movement’s image over time, and resulted in some unions continuing to lose members

Where is the Vision?

Submitted by The Barbados Lobby


Toni Moore, General Secretary, BWU

After reading the address that was given by the leader of the Barbados Workers Union on the BWU 74th Anniversary on October 5, 2015, I came to the conclusion that the address was void of any connection to the political and economic situation that is currently unfolding in Barbados.

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Barbados Workers Union FACE OFF With Barbados Light & Power Company

Submitted by Anthony Davis

The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BL&P) has been warned that it will not be allowed to send home workers before discussing the matter with the Social Partnership. Any attempt to do so will be met with strong resistance from the combined forces of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and Ministry of Labour, the union’s General Secretary Toni Moore cautioned today – Barbados Today

tonimooreI sincerely hope that this is not another empty threat by one of the trade unions in this country. Recently they are better known for their bark rather than their bite, as they have not represented their constituents to the best of their abilities because they were sleeping too soundly in their beds with this Government.

I take umbrage at the behaviour of the head of the BL&P when she states that it is either layoffs or a rate hike. Is she a member of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) that she can make such an audacious statement?

In other words, does she have any say whatsoever in whether that company would be granted a rate hike?

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Barbados Workers Union Hauled Before the Employment Rights Tribunal for Unfair Dismissal

It is unusual to observe an employee forced to seek remedy against a trade union. Unfortunately for the employee (Christopher Jordan) the Chief Labour Officer was unable to resolve the matter, and as the law requires, he referred the matter to the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT).

The inability of the government to operationalize the ERT continues to be an embarrassment for the country. The hundreds of cases outstanding to be given a hearing should be a cause of concern for the CTUSAB and Barbadians at large. How is the minister of labour Esther Byer able to boast of Barbados’ enactment of modern employment rights law if the efficacy of said law continues to be compromised by a dysfunctional ERT?

A few other pertinent questions: why has Christopher Jordan had to endure the most base of labour practices by the largest trade union in Barbados?  Why was the Chief Labour Officer unable to resolve the issue in light of glaring missteps by the Barbados Workers Union? Why has the government who boast of prioritizing the need to build a society above the economy not fast tracked alternative options to ameliorate the state of labour affairs in Barbados?

The inability of our social safety structure to deliver in the prevailing environment is the true measurement of how effective government’s strategy has been. Where is the justice for the Christopher Jordans who represents the most vulnerable in our society?

Stillborn Employee Rights Tribunal: When the Rights of Workers and the Interest of Trade Unions Differ

In explaining reinstatement, the employee returns to the workplace after careful consideration by the Tribunal and it would be as if the dismissal had not taken place” …In respect of reengagement,” she continued, “the employee returns and if there is suitable employment for the employee, they return to employment that is comparable [to their previous job

The Employment Rights Act – A New Era For Barbados 17 May 2013

Almost seven months ago Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart intervened in the dispute between the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the National Conservation Commission (NCC) how 200 workers were selected to be retrenched. Stuart admitted publicly that mistakes were made in the process and the matter had to be resolved by the Employee Rights Tribunal (ERT). It was reported in the media that both the NUPW and the BWU welcomed the Prime Minister’s intervention and dutifully briefed their respective membership to expect a speedy resolution.

Subsequent events have shown that the ERT has not been able to function – a new ERT Board has to be appointed after nearly 18 months  – and consequently the NCC matter has been in abeyance along with 70+ other cases. Of interest at the time, and highlighted by head of Unity Workers Union Caswell Franklyn, was the suggestion the NCC matter would have been catapulted to the top of the case load for hearing by the ERT. Because the first attempt to operationalize the ERT failed, the attempt to influence the scheduling of cases by the political directorate is relegated to moot status.

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BWU Wants Moore

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group

Toni Moore - General Secretary of the BWU

Toni Moore – General Secretary of the BWU

The Mahogany Coconut Group welcomes the new General Secretary of the powerful Barbados Workers Union (BWU), Comrade Toni Moore. She is the first woman to head what is probably one of the best organized workers unions throughout the Caribbean. It is a tribute to the Barbadian women, who have always been in the struggle for the betterment of the working class. Our faith in the younger Caribbean generation is fortified by Comrade Moore’s elevation at the young age of thirty eight.

Comrade Moore takes over the union at a time when the workers in Barbados are under tremendous pressure as the government’s austerity program becomes more intensified and far reaching. The Transport Board, and other government statutory boards, have suffered from widespread retrenchment and the unions, in many cases have not been as vigilant, as we would have wanted them to be in fighting government on behalf of their members. Many workers of the BWU believe they have been betrayed by their leadership, and have speared no effort in publicly accusing the BWU and other unions of dropping the ball.

Her task will be to reignite that spirit of activism that has fallen so badly and we hope that she quickly demonstrates a desire to carry the fight to both the public and private sector employers. We are aware that her predecessor, Sir Roy Trotman, has left some issues on the table which she must address with great speed. We speak of the current Employment Rights Bill that employers have been exploiting because of loop holes. Comrade Moore should also move quickly to mend all fences in the Social Partnership if it is to become any worthwhile factor in the social and economic development of the country.

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BWU – Political Delay Tactic at its Best

Submitted by BajanTruth

Sir Roy Trotman, BWU

Sir Roy Trotman, BWU

One does not have to be a political scientist to see the “politically based delay tactic (PDT)” being played out against National Conservation Commission (NCC) workers by Barbados Workers Union (BWU) leadership who it would also appear based on the tactic used is in obvious private cahoots with government.

As we have seen on so many issues when referring to the Prime Minister for action, the PDT  can now be officially called the “Stuart Manoeuvre”, which is to delay action until people forget, loose interest, get tired, or just give in. What a shame SR …. what a stain on your BWU legacy, the “workers of Barbados will never forget”.

BWU, enough is enough, either represent the workers of Barbados without partisanship concerns or give them their “DUES PAID BACK”. To accept membership dues for services and support not rendered I am sure is against the law and ripe for some kind of workers group law suit.

Unions Have Outlived Their Life Expectancy

Submitted by Wayne Cadogan

unions in Barbados lost their way in the early 90’s

…unions in Barbados lost their way in the early 90’s…

A few years ago there was a calypso called “Captain, the ship is sinking” and the unions are contributing to the downfall of the country. During the 1940’s thru the 1980’s unions worldwide were powerful, they had teeth and they would bite very hard. In those early days, the unions worldwide fought for the workers’ rights and in many cases where successful in defending the blue collar workers rights from unscrupulous employers. Unions served its purposes then and in many cases destroyed many businesses in the process and in some cases, countries. Unions worldwide are practically non-existent and no longer serve the purpose that it did in the earlier days. Those that are still around are just a figure head and they no longer have that power and teeth to bite but only growl.

The unions in Barbados lost their way in the early 90’s and similar to unions worldwide are no longer effective in carrying out their mandate. During the past few years, the unions have been unsuccessful in a number of negotiations with the private sector and especially within the public service. In the case of the government, it would appear that the union is in bed with the government, especially the Barbados workers union, because of all the political affiliation of some of its members. In recent years, the union has been threatening to shut down the country over some very frivolous issues, where they did not have a foot to stand on. Very recently, the union threatened to shut down the country over an apology. I cannot fathom how a company can be closed and not functioning, and the union called a strike to have workers from that company that were laid off to be reinstated. It must be noted that all of this has taken place in the middle of the sugar crop, the very industry that this country depends on to earn foreign exchange for its survival. Can the union be serious? How can a union that purports to represent the worker want to destroy the workforce that the country depends on to bring in foreign exchange to run the country?

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Notes From a Native Son: How Sir Roy, Out of Step with his Times, is Damaging the Nation

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

Once again the nation has been treated to a childish outburst from Sir Roy Trotman, the grandfather of Barbadian trade unionism, over an issue that is as relevant to a nation up to its neck in economic problems as it is for a shopper forced to join the back of the queue. We all know, as a nation, that Sir Roy, who ought to be the elder statesman of industrial relations, is capable of crying like a naughty baby who has thrown his toy out of the pram. To my mind, he has no sense of statesmanship or of good leadership and should be sent out to graze by his members.

The Case:
Sir Roy got his smalls in a twist when, it is alleged, members of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations voted to deny the Barbados Workers’ Union, of which he is general secretary, a place as part of the delegation to the International Labour Organisation meeting.
It appears, even to those of us not connected with the discussions, that it was a snub, whether intended or not, a small matter that Sir Roy could have drawn to the associate members’ attention.

But, true to form (I even get the impression he did not consult his executive colleagues, and indeed a move of such magnitude should be voted on by all the union’s members) he decided he would walk out. It is consistent with the impression I have of him as a poor negotiator – it is his way or no way.

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Barbados Workers Union Boots CTUSAB

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group

Sir Leroy Trotman (l), Minister of Labour Byer-Sukoo (r)

Sir Leroy Trotman (l), Minister of Labour Byer-Sukoo (r)

For some time, we have warned that the trade union movement in Barbados was being marginalized. The coziness with employers brought about by the so-called Social Partnership, has long been a cause of concern to the Mahogany Coconut Group. The frequent love fests of the employers’ representatives and the union bosses were brilliant public relations stunts designed to fool those who don’t understand the treachery inherent in such exercises.” – Mahogany Coconut Blog 1/11/2013

BWU General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman said more specifically, his union’s decision to cut ties with CTUSAB was simply put , in an effort to prevent a deliberate effort to marginalize the Barbados Workers Union…………….He explained that this meant his organization would not have a voice at the Social partnership.” – Barbados Today, 19/04/2013

We are not in the business of saying: We told you so. At the same time, we must state that the rumblings in the so-called Social Partnership have been rampant for some time. However, they reached a peak when the BWU refused to back down from its stance with LIME and certain politicians already in bed with LIME wanted to pressure the union.

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Barbados Workers Union Has Become Irrelevant

Submitted by Philip Skeete

Sir Roy Trotman

Sir Roy Trotman

I should be grateful if you [BU]  would get in touch with Sir Roy and tell him that a strike by the members of the BWU will not cripple LIME operations in 2013. All Sir Roy will be doing is crippling the Barbados economy. LIME’s survival depends on people using cell phones. While the workers  are on strike, their idle fingers will be sending text messages to friends and family. Tops-up will be the order of the day.

Pointless boasting that the Union successfully took strike action for 3 weeks against the Telephone Company 31 years ago. Those were the days when radio telephone operators connected people  worldwide.Now every home in Barbados has a MagicJack [Skype] and while they are on strike, they will be giving their friends and family a blow by blow commentary on what is going on.

Those were the days when newspapers had to wait hours for Reuters and Associated Press stories. Today, MCTV, Direct TV and Satellite receivers mounted on top of  news media houses provide them with data before Reuters or Associated Press can get  it right. Remember the 9/11 attacks? FOX News and CNN brought the news into the homes of Barbadians. They didn’t have to wait till the following day like back in 1981 (Bartel strike) to get the news. Every day youngsters watch European football on MCTV or on satellite TV at bars all over Barbados. LIME doesn’t provide these services. Nobody is waiting for an operator to answer the phone at LIME to send a telegram to friends and family overseas, Sir Roy. MagicJack is there for that purpose.

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LIME BWU Dispute: Social Partnership Failing

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank/Watchdog Group

Sir Leroy Trotman (l), Minister of Labour Byer-Sukoo (r)

Sir Leroy Trotman (l), Minister of Labour Byer-Sukoo (r) – Credit: Barbados Today

For some time, we have warned that the trade union movement in Barbados was being marginalized. The coziness with employers brought about by the so-called Social Partnership, has long been a cause of concern to the Mahogany Coconut Group. The frequent love fests of the employers’ representatives and the union bosses were brilliant public relations stunts designed to fool those who don’t understand the treachery inherent in such exercises.

We have reached a state of utter delusion, if we believe that the playing field is level and the actions of LIME clearly demonstrate that the Social Partnership is exactly that-nothing more than high level social gatherings and smiles for the cameras.

Recession or no recession, we cannot surrender the rights of workers and their representatives to be respected. The truth is that LIME decided to dismiss workers while promising to continue the collective bargaining process. No self respecting union can take such an insult lightly.

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Diamonds International: Who's Telling The Truth?

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

First let me state that I hold no brief for either Sir Roy Trotman, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union, or Mr. Jacob Hassid, the owner of Diamonds International. I will therefore attempt to put the recent events involving Diamonds International in perspective in an unbiased way.

During a speech on May Day 2012, Sir Roy Trotman reported that twenty workers were dismissed by Diamonds International because they held a meeting to form a bargaining unit at their workplace. If that were so I could understand Sir Roy’s anger. What I don’t understand is why a person of such eminence would stoop to using a racial slur to make a point. Not only is he the leader of this country’s largest union: he is an honourable member of the Senate. His behaviour would have brought discredit to both bodies. Additionally, it should be abhorred that someone who has received one of Barbados’ highest honours would behave in this manner. He is articulate enough to deliver of himself without offending all right-thinking people in this country.

Having brought his union into disrepute, the Executive Council should disassociate itself from those remarks, and censure him at the very least for his conduct which he made worse by saying that he has nothing to apologise for, as reported in the Nation of May 4, 2012. Also he serves as an independent senator at the pleasure of the Governor-General, who should express his displeasure by declaring Sir Roy’s seat vacant. As a person who was knighted, he is expected to set a positive example: he has fallen way short of that example for which he should be converted back to plain old Leroy Trotman.

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Barbados Workers Union Poaching On NUPW’s Turf

Sir Roy Trotman - General Secretary of BWU

It is no secret substantive General Secretary of the National Union of Public Works (NUPW) Dennis Clarke is battling a serious illness. His condition has led to the Executive of the NUPW elevating other officers to carry on the day to day business of the union.

It therefore comes as a surprise to read the following communication which has been circulated to employees of the Customs Department. Bear in mind Barbados Workers Union (BWU) represents Customs Guards and NUPW represents the other workers at Customs.

BU understands that managing a union is akin to running a business and the harsh economic times must be negatively affecting union membership and dues. However, the kindred spirit which should exist between the two largest unions functioning under the umbrella arrangement of CTUSAB leaves a stink in the air.

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Sir Roy Trotman, Grand Ole Duke of York Up To His Old Tricks ~ National Strike Looms In Barbados

Source: Nation Newspaper

I read your blog every day and though I do not always agree with your opinions I do see the need for your blog and I find you much less biased that BFP which is why I am writing to you. I hear there is a strike looming which could possibly become a national strike and I am personally shocked at the lack of action taken to avert this strike by our new government. Maybe it’s that I am used to Owen’s politics where he would personally intervene in order to avert a strike as he has done on numerous occasions even just before the elections but is not leadership what we want in a prime minister….someone who even if it is not their business would get involved? any feedback whether by email or in an article would be appreciated.

Submitted by BU reader, the opinion expressed above is not necessarily shared by BU.

We have always held the view that the tripartite social partnership comprised of government, private sector and union is a contrived arrangement orchestrated by the master of inclusion, the late Owen Seymour Arthur. Its touted success was derived more for political expediency which has benefited government and private sector at the expense of workers for its duration. Key players in the union and private sector have been rewarded by the master of inclusion. The workers in our opinion have been disadvantaged over the years by this two headed master who has operated under the guise of government and private sector. To be further explored at a later date.

To the issue at hand — the threat of a national strike looms on Wednesday 20, 2008. Whether it happens or not the economy of Barbados would be negatively affected. Cruise ships would have adjusted their itineraries as well as forward bookings by people wanting to travel to Barbados. It begs the question why has this issue reached boiling point so quickly.

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