Trade Unions – A Web of Entanglement

Posted as a comment by Paula Sealy to In the Left Corner (CTUSAB), Right Corner (BWU) blog – Blogmaster

Under Dr. Suckoo CTUSAB was appointed to represent Barbados at the ILO. This position was historically viewed as the birthright of the BWU. The friction started when Sir Roy stepped down as CTUSAB head and was no longer heading to the ILO.

CTUSAB has not escaped the political gimmickry you see. The political incursion into CTUSAB is noteworthy. The DLP appointed the last president of CTUSAB, Cedric Murrell, to head the board of management at St. George Secondary while he was president. And he accepted. So who are the labour leaders serving?

When the head of the Congress agrees to represent the government on a board where labour is to be represented, something is not right but that is the norm for labour leaders in Barbados.

So Toni Moore is not alone. O’Neal was Braddy’s boy long time in the Pine. Mary is in the bosom of the government. Kimberley Agard is right beside her on the bus. Poor Akanni fell off the bus. Pedro Shepherd decided to run when he should have walked instead.

The new BUT president is connected to the former Minister of Education who nominated his father to the QEH board. There is a lot more in that boardroom than the executive.

They are hush-hush but the public is aware that last month’s election results are being challenged by losing candidates who ran for 2nd VP and 3rd VP.

With all of the infighting in the BUT and Mary’s politics the teachers are suffering.

In the Left Corner (CTUSAB), Right Corner (BWU)

Two media reports caught the eye of the blogmaster on May Day, a day set aside to “commemorate the efforts and victories of the workers’ class and the labour movement”.

The first was President Edwin O’Neal of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) giving notice in his May Day address under the Clement Payne slogan Educate, Agitate But Do Not Violate to all and sundry, he intends to defend the organization with all he can muster see – CTUSAB: Don’t mess with us.

The other item was from General Manager Toni Moore of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) in a SEPARATE address at a DIFFERENT location delivering a May Day message. The BWU withdrew from CTUSAB the umbrella union body in 2013 readers may recall – see earlier BU blog Barbados Workers Union Boots CTUSAB.

Why are the two items of interest?

We have two entities promoting themselves as advocates for the rights of workers and in the glare of the public it presumes to represent are unable to reconcile differences going on for 9 years and counting. In the same period , workers have been embarrassed to ALSO witness incompetence, political interference and diminishing role of other major unions in a period labour has been under attack given a cataclysmic shift in labour capital dynamic in the last 20 years in Barbados and internationally. The shining light during a growing period of darkness, Caswell Franklyn and his Unity Workers Union. Through the embarrassing nine year imbroglio, successive government ministries of labour have satisfied the description of being moribund and supine.

Piss in the blogmaster’s pocket do.

IF Mia Cares She Should Stop ‘Picking-on’ the Public Service!

Submitted by Charles Skeete

[Barbados Underground] There are enough unpaid taxes and debts due and owing to the Government which if vigorous efforts are made to collect would make the spectre of job losses avoidable and that should have been the first order of business on assuming office because there is no such thing as painless layoffs.

Whatever strategy is employed in relation to job cuts would as a consequence be painful to the jobless.

If the government cares and we are all in it together, the new government which has not really completed a work cycle to merit vacation pay should refrain from taking the increase if they really cared since it would not relate to their time in office but the previous administration who would more have a rightful claim.

They could also abolish temporarily or permanently the unnecessary perks given to senior public officers in Government and at statutory boards. They could even consider a Tom Adams like surcharge which would touch the entire workforce rather than penalize public servants all the time who make up a small portion of the economy.

What about those self employed persons who pay no taxes or NIS THEY SHOULD BE THE ones targeted and stop using the public service as a whipping boy just because they are on the system and easy to get at. The list of indebtedness to the Government is easy to compile. Get up off your asses and do some work and stop looking for the easy way out which is counter productive anyhow since our economy like a meeting turn depends on what is circulated and layoffs takes money out of circulation and stagnates the economy.

A Heather Cole Column – Open Letter to the Trade Unions of Barbados

Time For a Rebirth

Barbados is once again at the crossroads, as it stood during the 1930’s. The Trade Union movement of that day challenged the authority of the island when they stood up for the political, social and economic rights of the working class. In every shape and form what had occurred on the island was a violation of the human rights of the entire black working class population.

In their wisdom, the founders of the Trade Union movement reached the conclusion that the best way to challenge the establishment was to form their own political party. Looking back, it was the best plan that they could have ever put into action because the Moyne Commission was only a Band-Aid for the crisis that had unfolded throughout the entire British West Indies.

The challenges that are being experienced across the length and breadth of Barbados are therefore not new but have occurred in another time as a result of a another set of political and economic actions. The burdens of taxation are crippling economic activity in Barbados. Unemployment which affects the source of purchasing power in any society today has produced a series of reactions in housing, education and healthcare for which the government did not anticipate or put measures in place to cushion the effects of its draconian policies. Even for those employed, the reality is that the real wage has declined as taxation has increased.

The recent austerity measures of the just concluded Budgetary Proposals will only worsen the current situation. In essence without any significant impact on the island by Tourism or any of the other leading industries the outlook for Barbados is dismal under the current Administration. Over the past nine years, they have continuously shown the people of Barbados that they do not have the ability to successfully manage our economy.

In the past I have been an advocate for industrial action and shutting the island down, to date these measures have had little impact or served to change this present Administration’s actions. I am of the opinion now that these tools are not the remedy for the present situation. The time is now ripe for change; for self examination and rebirth; for a new focus and new strategies to achieve goals of empowering the workers of Barbados. The government has become deaf to workers economic and social rights and it no longer views the trade union as a bargaining partner. The best way to fight this government is to arm yourselves politically by forming your own political party and confront them in the upcoming general elections.

Trade Unions Baring Teeth on the Eve of 50th Independence Celebration

The BU household states for the record it supports the initiative by government to stoke our pride and industry by celebrating all that we have achieved since 1966. What we do NOT agree with is the government using the 50th Anniversary event as an opportunity to feather the popularity of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) with a general election looming large on the horizon.

It seems an exercise in tomfoolery that the government would engage in all year planning of the 50th Anniversary event and allow the grand finale to be ‘compromised’ by an escalation in the industrial climate in Barbados.

The incestuous relationship the government has with the NUPW (for sure) should be enough to make it aware that the climate is ‘hotting’ up. The government through the Prime Minister and the head of the Personnel Administration Department (PAD) will have to do a better job to convince BU and others that the Akanni McDowall matter does not have some politics in it. Not too long ago a DLP entrenched Derek Alleyne failed in a widely publicised motion to remove McDowall from the presidency of the NUPW.

The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) has entered the fray by issuing a 5 o’clock deadline to government to expire on the 19 November 2016. It claims the government through its agent the PAD has not responded to correspondence sent a month ago. Its General Secretary Toni Moore has threatened that the union is prepared to “bare its teeth” although it prefers a more conciliatory approach to resolving the grievances.

The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) have also taken an aggressive position as it relates to the government addressing the matter of compensation for marking School Based Assessment (SBA). The government should take careful note that the SBA grievance is more a concern for the BSTU. The BUT has also signalled that the docking of pay from teacher salaries for attending a meeting a few months ago and the threat to dock the pay of those who attended the meeting yesterday has been placed on the radar. The BUT leadership has determined that the government has resorted to tactics to intimidate labour.

Already there are confirmed reports about the painful process Barbadians returning home have been experiencing to clear Immigration and Customs at the airport. Those of us who have experienced the service delivered by the two departments BEFORE the go-slow know that it was already slow because of the manual inspection methods used by Customs. One can only imagine the agony being experienced by weary Barbadians (travellers) as they clear Immigration and Customs on a daily basis. Let us hope it will not dampen their enthusiasm especially when it comes to spending the US dollars.

Can you imagine we have the ridiculous situation where there is confusion about whether Akanni McDowall has the required qualification for an established post in the civil service?  Can you imagine a junior employee with the same qualification as McDowall was recruited to fill the post? Can you imagine McDowall’s contract was terminated 6 weeks before it expired? The NUPW argues YES and the head of PAD say NO. May the lord help this country.

To complicate the issue –add oil to the industrial waters, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has hinted in a statement last week his government may have to introduce legislation to prevent unions from holding the country to ransom. Should we assume from the Prime Minister’s position that the touted social partnership is failing?

The takeaway from this submission is for the government to note that the trade unions are collaborating. A word to the wise should be sufficient. As we write this blog the industrial climate at the airport has deteriorated with a breakdown in wages talks.

By the way, was that Caswell Franklyn of Unity Workers Union sitting next to Toni Moore from Barbados Workers Union the other day?

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.

Trade Unions and the Great Conspiracy

Submitted by William Skinner

...Barbados Labour Party has been in the main supported by the traditional corporate sector ...

…Barbados Labour Party has been in the main supported by the traditional corporate sector …

In our midst, there are some very skilful manipulators of public opinion, who would like to give the impression that the trade union movement has only been in bed with the Democratic Labour Party. This is a great lie. The truth is that both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party have enjoyed incestuous relationships with the trade unions. I say unions because a very close and objective observation would reveal that none of the major unions has avoided being hijacked, at some point or the other, by members of the two ruling parties.

Ever since the fall of Grantley Adams, the Barbados Labour Party has been in the main supported by the traditional corporate sector and really had no need for the financing of its politics either in money or kind from the BWU. This left the field wide open for Errol Barrow to inflame the traditional white corporate sector and skilfully create a black rising business/professional class that has supported the Democratic Labour Party. Barrow established a very clever bond of capital and Labour and with great cunning, convinced the masses that the Dems were for them and the Bees for the whites. The Bees equally cunning deliberately started to paint the Dems as anti-employer and the ploy of these two behemoths parties has continued. And it has worked amazingly well.

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Notes From a Native Son: The End of the Journey for the Obstructionists Who have Stood in the Way of Progress

Hal Austin

Hal Austin

The announcement by the government of mass redundancies has created a scenario in which the trade union goliaths have abandoned ship. First to go is Sir Roy Trotman, a man who no doubt has overstayed his welcome and whose members should have shipped him out ages ago; now Dennis Clarke, of the National Union of Public Workers, has announced his retirement.

The announcement of a possible replace by Sir Roy Trotman, general secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, could not come at a more opportune moment.
Unfortunately for him, it will mean that after a lifetime of dedicated service to his members, the historical moment he has chosen will leave him with a distasteful legacy of failure. He goes at a time when many of his members face terrible hardship as they are in line to lose their jobs, both in the public and private sectors. And he has been forced to admit that the union has not got the funds to provide for his members if they fall on hard times, or if he called a strike in reaction to the government’s austerity jobs cut.

In many ways, this is his own fault and should be a wake-up call to the entire nation. For decades he has headed a union that had as its only weapon an adversarial confrontation with employers, the outdated idea of the two sides of industry, capital and labour. What Sir Roy and his key advisers have failed to understand is that industrial relations have moved on from the confrontational post-war years, which ran up to the end of the 1970s. Workplace relations have moved on with employers now offering employees a menu of benefits that have in the main to marginalise trade unionism. At some point Sir Roy and his team must explain to members why they have been paying their union dues for years, sometimes decades, and now that they need to draw on that dedication the general secretary is warning there is nothing in the pot. They will need to explain to members what kind of hedging they have been making of the unions funds, including preparation for an exceptional occurrence. They will have to explain to distressed members why the union is about to fail them when they call on the one service which drove them to join up – collective bargaining.

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A Return to the Polls

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group

Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart

Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart – “government has renege on its election promise to preserve the jobs of public servant”

The Mahogany Coconut Group will not be drawn into senseless nit picking in relation to the possible death of the Barbados its citizens have come to know and love. We are convinced that the first order of business is a return to the polls. If we accept that there has been a betrayal because the government has renege on its election promise to preserve the jobs of public servants, the truth is that it has failed to keep the central plank of its recent elections platform. Mr. Chris Sinkler has failed as Minister of Finance and should relieve himself or be relieved of that portfolio by the Prime Minister.

The country will not recover from this crisis overnight. It is now obvious to all and sundry that the problems are structural in nature. Those who proffer that the economy can be rescued by: eliminating summer camps; discontinuing football tournaments; shutting down constituency councils; making poor black people pay for university education; reintroducing bus fares on poor black children and sending home civil servants are grossly mistaken. We assure them that these are only superficial remedies.

The real problem the country faces is an improper management of its major resource –its people –and that is at the centre of its problems. The education system drains the national budget but it has been on automatic pilot since 1962 when free education was introduced, or so it is claimed. Ever since we have been producing citizens whose prospects of employment were getting dimmer and dimmer by the decade. In the midst of a failing economy and large sums being spent on the University of the West Indies, the limited resources had to dry up. Sir Hilary Beckles had a dream to have a graduate in every household. He never bothered to ask himself, if unemployed graduates on whom, the tax payers spent millions, were going to be an asset to the country. Nobody dared to ask him graduates in what or for what. Owen Arthur dreamed of a Barbados with two or three cars in each garage. In other words it was all about show not substance.

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Trade Unions Square Off Against Government With Job Cuts Imminent

Submitted by Anthony Davis

All of a sudden we have the union leaders running around like headless chickens, trying to do for their members what they should have been doing long ago – giving them proper representation, instead of hanky-pankying with Government, and the heads of the private sector bodies. They should have anticipated what is happening now, if they had not buried their heads in the sand, and forgotten that they had people’s livelihoods in their hands.

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Sir Roy’s Use of the Word Rape

Submitted by Charles Knighton

Sir Roy Trotman

Sir Roy Trotman

Having firmly established his bona fides as a bigoted xenophobe with his “Egyptian Jew” reference in describing the owner of Diamonds International, Sir Roy Trotman has now attached ignorant misogynist to his character traits by metaphorically comparing his union situation with the heinous crime of being raped which, according to Sir Roy, he “did not enjoy”.

The inference that under certain circumstances, being raped can be enjoyable evoked the less than enlightened years of my youth when glib males (always males!) were fond of saying that if rape was inevitable the woman might as well relax and enjoy it.
Since Sir Roy claims he is not ready to be put to pasture, he needs to seriously consider undergoing  the process of pasteurization.

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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Workers Misrepresentation, Who Benefits?

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Recently the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Dale Marshall, accused the National Union of Public Workers of playing politics. That caused me to reflect on the state of trade union representation in this country and wonder if the accusation was true for other unions. A comparison of the roles played by the unions during different political administrations would suggest that Marshall had justifiable reasons to come to his conclusion. During the DLP administration, you tend to get the impression that unions are bending over backward to accommodate the Government. When the BLP is in office, unions tend to be a bit more active which can be attributed to the fact that most union leaders appear to favour the DLP.

From inception workers have been complaining that the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) has not been acting in the best interest of workers, and that it has been used to keep workers quiet while the employers and Government, as the other members of the so called Social Partnership, gained at the expense of the workers. The list below which speaks for itself represents most of the major actors who played pivotal roles in the formation and continued existence of CTUSAB, and others who were active in their individual unions:

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Notes From a Native Son – Sir Roy’s Faux Pas or a Conversation With Ourselves: An Open Letter

Hal Austin

Dear Sir Roy,

We have not met and I am not in the habit of writing to total strangers. But on this occasion I think it is pertinent, since the subject- matter is of crucial interest to those of us of our generation and, more so, future generations. Further, I believe its contents should be shared with the country we both love as it is about the battle for the soul of the nation.

Recently, you had cause to describe a New Barbadian as an “Egyptian Jew”, or were reported as such, following an industrial relations dispute. It was an unfortunate turn of phrase which can rightly be interpreted as having racist undertones. You deny this and I am prepared to accept your word as an honourable man. Needless to say, I felt your pain from 3000 miles away, since the self-imposed restrictions we put on ourselves corrupt the grammar of our public discussions. I can tell from a distance that you are a proud man and will not suggest that you apologise unless you want to. An apology, if it is sincere, must come from within. But, if you are so inclined, do so unequivocally and move on.

The row over the alleged remarks is far too important to be personalised since it is but the tip of a ticking ethnic, religious and cultural time-bomb that will, in time, if it continues to go unchecked, will tear Barbados apart.
In a show of typical arrogance and chutzpah, the Barbadian ruling class has a firm belief that, despite the evidence all over the world, that that tiny island can be a successful multi-ethnically, multi-culturally and multi-religiously.

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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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Has The SSA Morphed To ASS?

Submitted by Charles Knighton

Photo Credit: Nation

While the necessary requisites of common sense as well as a non osteoporotic  spine may well doom this suggestion, someone in authority needs to carefully read and take to heart Mr. R. E. Guyson Mayers’ “Signs of the times” op-ed offering in the August 28th Advocate.

All who put pen to paper endeavour to achieve the perspicuous perspicacity displayed by Mr. Mayers in his parsing of the issues related to the Westbury Cemetery fiasco, but few succeed as well. Such an egregious example of the tail wagging the dog provides the ideal opportunity to reestablish a proper no nonsense chain of command. Unpaid suspensions from work, as well as a few outright dismissals might well garner employees’ attention.

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Story Behind Unity Workers Union

Submitted by GoWEB Caribbean


Caswell Franklyn - Head of Unity Workers Union

Over the past few months I have been approached wherever I go by persons who feel that I have somehow let them down by leaving The National Union of Public Workers to form UNITY WORKERS UNION. I hope that the following would clear up the issue.

Sometime ago I was approached by an executive officer of the NUPW, who asked if I would represent one of his relatives since he has no confidence in the ability of the NUPW secretariat to do the job. I eagerly undertook the challenge, and was successful. That officer then asked if I would be interested in returning to the NUPW Staff. I accepted, since worker representation is my preferred employment choice.

It was explained to me that the NUPW was experiencing financial difficulty, and could not pay me the salary that I deserved. I was assured that my salary would be adjusted when the union received a Government-guaranteed loan from the National Insurance Board. As a result, I declined another offer that would have paid me $1200 per month more.

I took up duties on May 19, 2008 as Grievance/Industrial Relations Office on contract for two years, with an option to renew. Initially, I was allowed to work without interference. Eventually, I started to receive suggestions to be less aggressive when representing individual workers because certain Heads of Department were uncomfortable with my style. Over time, those suggestions became requests to do less than my best while conducting a case. Needless to say, I ignored those request and continued to do my best on behalf of NUPW members.

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Regional Trade Unionists Invited To A LIME By LIME, ALL Expenses Paid

Sir Roy Trotman on the right captured with other parties in the Sandy Lane/Royal Shop dispute which remains unresolved

It is an open secret BU questioned the basis for conferring a Knighthood on Sir Roy Trotman by the government of Barbados. We support the social partnership which is comprised of government, private sector and trade unions even if we have done so with some apprehension through the years. Based on general feedback it is a partnership which has served Barbados well. In fact countries across the globe have studied and applauded the Barbados initiative. Conferring a Knighthood on Sir Roy who is the head of Barbados’ leading trade union, the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), has always been viewed as a conflict of interest by BU. Here is a man who has to sit across the collection bargaining table to negotiate the best terms for his members with the same government who rewarded him with a Knighthood.

The preamble should explain why an event staged by LIME Caribbean in January this year to ‘wined and dined’ labour leaders from nine trade unions and seven countries in the region is viewed with some suspicion by BU. Early this year the nine trade unionist were ‘wined and dined’ by LIME in what was described as ‘partnership building’. LIME formerly Cable & Wireless Ltd has been at logger heads with unions across the region linked to its efforts at organizational transformation in recent times. The process to date has been painful. In Barbados the Prime Minister had to intervene in a decision to close the call centre in Barbados. As far as we know this matter has fizzled despite the mouthings of Sir Roy and requests from the Prime Minister’s Office for LIME to reconsider.

BU appreciates there is merit in collaborating with trade unions across the Caribbean. LIME is a Pan-Caribbean company and the need to build partnerships with the respective unions must be seen as a priority to ensuring a stable industrial relations climate for the company. Additionally, lessons would have been learned from the First Caribbean International Bank experience which was very painful.

The question which we hope our media practitioners will ask LIME management – why is the initiative being led by new head of regional marketing and chairman of LIME Jamaica, Chris Dehring?  Seems highly unusual such an initiative should be led by marketing. Perhaps there is a good explanation therefore let us hear it!

Another concern has been the lack of coverage given by local media to the ‘wining and dining’ event. It seems reasonable given the high profile of LIME in the region and the acrimonious posture it has endured with some regional unions (including the BWU) that the event in January should have been viewed as a big news story. Help us out here but BU has scoured the Internet for mention of the story locally with little success.

Here is what we believe.

LIME is one of the biggest spenders of advertising dollars in Barbados and the region. The current economic challenges has made the media patsies for LIME with the deep pockets to exploit. BU suggest the reason why the local media has been ‘dumb’ on this story is because it does not want to offend its cash cow.

Read the story which was carried in the Jamaica Gleaner in February 2010:

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LIME The Bully, BWU The Weakling!

Sir Roy Trotman - General Secretary of BWU

Sir Roy Trotman - General Secretary of BWU

We intended to advise the BU family of the good work which BU family members ROK, Chris Halsall et al continue to do on behalf of the people of Barbados. In light of the recent news concerning the severing of 116 employees from LIME how could we not add a few words about our favourite company.

The Fair Trading Commission recently announced the list of 10 Intervenors who have complied  with the requirements under the Procedural Rules and have been granted intervenor status to participate in the review of electricity rates to commence on 7 October 2009 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. At the top of the list is Barbados Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (BANGO).

Although the the rate review is scheduled for 7 October 2009 several procedural matters start from August 7, the Intervenors will be kept busy doing the people’s work. We take this opportunity to thank the 10 civic minded Intervenors.

Sadly the re-emergence in the news of LIME, formerly Cable & Wireless sending home 116 employees at the height of a recession again brings into sharp focus the role of the FTC. Rulings by the FTC in the recent past has seen C&W which has a monopoly of fixed-lines in Barbados generating huge profits. Despite a good bottom-line over the years C&W formerly LIME has been relentless in sending home rank and file Barbadians while the executives continue to rake in some of the highest salaries in the Southern Caribbean  along with bonus payments.

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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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