Barbados Nurses Take to the Streets, Again

Submitted by Tee White

On 17 January, striking nurses from the Unity Workers Union once again took the streets of the capital Bridgetown to press their demands that the government address their long held grievances and abandon its attempts to starve them into surrender. United with one voice behind their slogans of ‘No retreat, no surrender’ and ‘Touch one, touch all’ the nurses marched from Cheapside to the newly opened Golden Square Park which commemorates the struggles of a previous generation of fighting workers from the people’s rebellion of 1937. Many onlookers expressed their support for the striking nurses, condemned the government for ‘unfairing the nurses’ and demanded that they address the nurses’ longstanding grievances. One of the striking nurses, who has worked in the health care system for over 14 years was interviewed. The interview is presented below.

Interviewer:

Can you tell us why you are here today? Why are you marching today?

Nurse:

So, today I am marching because of the different grievances that have been ongoing and current things that have taken place within the nursing fraternity. Mainly the straw that you can say broke the camel’s back was the safe zones that were brought up and then we heard, “oh, it wasn’t ready”. But we know it’s just a matter of time before that comes back. How could it be right that a nurse could not work for 14 months? I thought I had heard incorrect. 14 months? That is a year and two months. Who will do that? I mean, I, myself, when I first started, I worked three months without pay. I had to wait three months so I can understand but I honestly, lots of things that were happening because the institutions, you don’t know everything that’s going on at different institutions, I could not believe it. I could not believe that at a healthcare institution, at a hospital, they would not be phones on a ward, that nurses are using their cell phones to call doctors, or the nurses would have to walk across a yard day or nighttime. No, man, this is Barbados. It’s ridiculous. Nurses are using or re-using things like NG tubes. I am sorry, but I wouldn’t want that for my relatives. And I cannot condone that. If you can find money to do all kind of other things, why can’t you find money to do what is important and you say that you care about the health of our nation? That says something different to me. That’s just some of the things, but there, there are more issues, but enough is enough. It’s time that we take a stand.

I think by nature, nurses try to accommodate everybody. But what are you doing to your colleagues who are going all of this time with families and can’t support them? It hard for people who get paid every month, furthermore for people who ain’t get paid for a long time. It is ridiculous. Something has to be done about it. And that’s why I’m here today to lend my support. I mean, it’s not happening to me personally, but if my colleague is hurt, we have to work as a team. If my colleague is hurt, I will feel that pain. I think that in the workplace, it is toxic, for lack of a better word. I think the workplaces are toxic and people would just give you lip service, but they’re not doing anything. They just putting on makeup on a face full of pimples. So that’s why I’m here today to lend support and demand that change comes about. We are not unreasonable. We know that you can’t meet all of the grievances that we have, but you have to start somewhere. And the mere fact that you met with taxi people, but up to know, you have not met to see what’s going on to see how you will bring resolution or redress. I think it is ridiculous.

Interviewer:

The government said they will talk to you, but first you have to call off the strike. What do you think about that?

Nurse:

No. So does that make sense? You can talk to me after I call off the strike. So if you give me things that are not in agreement with me, I already gone back to work. So that makes no sense? Nobody with common sense would do that. No, no. You meet with me. You meet with the representative, the general secretary, and we tell the general secretary what we want. So when you meet with him and he brings back what your proposals are, we will say, we agree with this, or we don’t agree with this. For me to stop striking and go back to work that means I surrender and I say all is well. And all is not well.

Interviewer:

So you know this is the election time. We got an election coming up on Wednesday. As a nurse, who’s involved in this struggle for your rights as nurses and to protect the patients as well, do you have any message to send to either the existing government or whoever should be the new government when they come in after Wednesday?

Nurse:

Whoever comes, whoever wins, I know that their job will be difficult, but if you understand the pandemic that we are in, you have to make your nurses comfortable. Comfortable workers have good production. So that’s what you need to do. I know that everything will not be able to be done at one time, but you have to prioritize what is important. So we will see.

Strike Action During a Pandemic!

The ongoing dispute between Unity Workers Union (UWU) and government exposes the boast we are an uneducated people. It seems the height of ignorance actors on both sides are unable to resolve a dispute involving healthcare workers during a pandemic. This has occurred in a country with a social partnership established with a mandate to prioritize a space to facilitate consultation, dialogue and collaboration. It must be stated Caswell has written in this space his lack of confidence in the social partnership. 

The blogmaster has no bone in the fight EXCEPT to acknowledge the life of a human being is priceless. If it is the grievances fueling the dispute for whatever reasons cannot be quickly resolved because of weighty imponderables – the raging pandemic has created the opportunity for reasonableness between the parties to be exercised. To maintain intractable positions with omicron starting to spike our rate of infections is an admission of idiocy. Bear in mind Barbados’ heavy dependence on tourism and the negative impact an elevated positivity rate will have on the country’s ability to earn precious foreign exchange. There is the possibility government’s finances may collapse and compromise its ability to service public sector payroll.

According to reports strike action about 100 strong is expected to take place this morning, a clear indication the chasm which exists between the two sides. If UWU backs down it may be interpreted as a defeat especially for the peppy head of UWU Caswell Franklyn who is fighting to increase his share of membership. If the government gives in, it opens the door for the industrial relations climate to become active at the worse time for government managing tanking revenues. 

Of concern to the blogmaster is the role Most Honourable Minister of Health Jeffrey Bostic has been reported to have played so far. It was reported the former schoolmates Bostic and Franklyn had agreed to a third party mediator to move the dispute along. According to Caswell Prime Minister Mottley vetoed the meeting after her request for striking workers to return to work was rejected. This slammed the door shut on possibly resolving the matter or at minimum depositing it in the abeyance bucket. The call of a snap general election eighteen months from when it is constitutionally due ensures the door remains closed. This is the second time Bostic has found himself in a pickle in recent months. His surprising admission he knew nothing about an arrangement between a Mark Maloney led initiative and government to procure AstraZeneca Covid 19 vaccine from a non traditional procurement source continues to tug at sensible minds. It surprised many including the blogmaster that Bostic and the permanent secretary- who signed off on the strange arrangement- were conferred high national honour. Through it all the phlegmatic Bostic has been serving out his final days having given notice of retirement from politics in October 2021.

In the system of government we practice all ‘big works’ related matters continue to lead to the first among equals in Cabinet. Hopefully in the debate to come about reforming the Barbados Constitution, whichever party wins the upcoming election, Barbados will seize the opportunity to create relevant constitutional clauses to ensure decision making by the executive becomes more decentralized from the prime minister led approach synonymous with a dictatorship.

Caswell Franklyn: A Nurse’s Cry

A call to Bajans at home and abroad

Submitted by Tee White

The attached recording, of a striking nurse phoning into Down to Brass Tacks, needs no explanation. This moving call speaks for itself. The issue is what we as Bajans are going to do about the situation. As the saying goes, evil triumphs when good people do nothing. We have a responsibility to take a stand in defence of the nurses and to condemn the government’s attempts to starve them into submission. We can raise our voices, especially in this election period, and demand that the government stop its attacks on them and sit down with their representatives to address their issues. We can also donate to their strike fund. Bank details are presented at the end of the transcript. We have a responsibility to the striking nurses. Let’s take it up.

A striking nurse phoning into Down to Brass Tacks 29/12/2021

For those of you who have or are not able to listen to the phone in call, a transcript is below.

Nurse: It was always said to us “It’s not the right time to strike. It’s not the right time to take action. Just wait. We’re going to talk and see what happens”. This has been years and nurses are now to the point, just fed up. It’s real hard every day you go to work. And the conditions you have to work in and you’re not seeing a salary at the end of the month. You’re overworked, overlooked and you’re still expected to come work with a smile on your face and work to the best of your ability.

I myself have gone more than four months without a salary. I have colleagues that have gone longer and it’s hard. You are at work. You owe the nursery, you owe the bank and no one wants to hear “oh I didn’t get my salary yet”. They’re still calling you expecting you to pay them. So I have all that stress from elsewhere on me. I’m still not receiving my salary.

Persons are saying that we’re only making noise about hazard pay. That is not the case. Nurses are not even receiving their regular salary and it’s hard. They’re saying even not only a basic salary, nurses have also gone on to be qualified, even if it’s a psychiatric nurse, a geriatric nurse, we go and specialise. You’re not even receiving the money that you’re supposed to get on your salary for these qualifications. There are nurses that have gone over ten years and have not got the increase on their salary.

And persons think this is fair. They’re saying it’s Covid times, things are going on. We shouldn’t be doing this. But look at it. Would you, yourself, go and work?

Would you continue to do that? There are times you don’t see ‘go to the bathroom’, you work through lunch, you work through break just to make sure that your patients are good. But you, yourself, your health is deteriorating. But no one is looking at you and it’s hard.

The prime minister came on and said she gave the nurses hazard pay. Persons were appointed. If there were 600 nurses and you appointed two, what happened to the other four? My thing is, the other four will still have problems and they said they gave hazard pay. To my knowledge, a lot of my colleagues have not

received hazard pay for the month of December either. Seen not a cent of this hazard pay.

And I go to work. Where I work, I have been spat on. I have been hit, cussed. I have went through it and it’s just frustrating and hard to hear persons saying that we don’t care and we still go to work in all these conditions and they’re saying we do not care. How could that be?

Phone in host: I’m really sorry to hear this call and all of the things that you have expressed. Tell me, what do you think is going to happen over the next few weeks while we are waiting for an election? Do you think you will get any resolution? Are you willing to go to the work in the interim?

Nurse: No and it was very interesting that she did not hear out the nurses and our problems before they even run and do that. That meeting that was supposed to be held was cancelled. You did not hear all our problems, and you are saying that this is a critical time in terms of health care, and you did not hear out the nurses that are on the front line. How dare you?

Nurses have families at home. There were many nurses that had not seen a salary for December, and they have families. When you were home having your meals, what were they doing and telling their children? But no we’re to come to work every day with a smile on our face.

They’re saying they didn’t have enough nurses, so they had to bring in nurses.

Ask them why they didn’t have enough nurses. Because persons from England are recruiting our nurses. Persons from the States are recruiting our nurses because we are really good nurses. So if they’re recruiting our nurses, the nurses, are leaving because you’re not treating us right. The nurses have no choice than to leave. It’s been years we have been asking. We have been asking to be heard we are not being heard. If someone else is recruiting us, why should we stay?

Phone in host: This is really difficult to listen to, not because anything that you said is wrong. But I can hear the pain in your voice. And I really do hope that something can come of this, because it is really important that we treat those on the front lines, our health care professionals much better. You are very important to us to our healthcare system, and you need to be treated properly. So I hope that you will get some kind of resolution. I hope it will be sooner rather than later. And I don’t know what is going to happen in these three weeks leading up to the election, but I hope that something is being put in place at the level of your union to assist those of you who are on strike. And I hope that you all are able to make a decision that benefits you in terms of whether you will remain on strike or go back to work. But thanks.

The strike fund of the nurses can be supported by making donations to:

Unity Workers Union

Republic Bank (Warrens), Barbados

Account # 108291982001

Transit# 00010

SWIFT BNBABBBB

All-out Support for Striking Nurses

Nurses defend their strike action against attacks from the government, employers and BLP aligned trade union leaders

Submitted by Tee White

On Wednesday 16 December after a meeting of the Social Partnership which brings together the government, employers and trade unions, Prime Minister Mia Mottley hosted a press conference in which she unleashed a scathing attack on the striking nurses and, in particular, Caswell Franklyn, the opposition senator who is also the leader of the Unity Workers Union (UWU) which represents the striking nurses. Prime Minister Mottley accused the nurses of prematurely initiating strike action without following the accepted procedures and accused their leader of using the strike action to further his own political ambitions. She further denounced the UWU leader for encouraging its members to abandon patients and declared that since the nurses were on strike, the government would dock their pay.

The Prime Minister’s attack on the striking nurses was, not surprisingly, fully supported by the Barbados Private Sector Association but, more surprisingly, also backed by the leaders of various trade unions including the Barbados Association of Medical Practitioners (BAMP), the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA), the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB). Openly violating the basic principles of working class solidarity, which as leaders of workers’ organisations they are supposed to uphold, these trade union leaders distanced themselves from the striking nurses and made common cause with the government and employers in their attacks on the nurses. The members of these unions will need to hold these leaders to account for their betrayal of basic trade union principles.

In the face of the onslaught from the government and the forces it had mobilised against them, the nurses have held their ground and more nurses are joining them in the strike action in defence of their rights. The trigger for the dispute was a botched attempt by the government to introduce its mandatory Covid 19 vaccination policy under the guise of ‘safe zones’ at the geriatric hospital. The management of this institution put up a notice at work identifying unvaccinated nurses who would have to undergo weekly PCR tests. The UWU had previously made it clear to the management that any attempt to impose the mandatory vaccination policy, without consultation with the union, would be met with strike action. Although the Ministry of Health backed down and stated that the management of the geriatric hospital had acted prematurely since the mandatory vaccination rollout had not yet been approved, this action nevertheless triggered the nurses to take a stand on a number of other issues which had remained unresolved for years. These included better pay, better working conditions, health insurance, continuous training and better nurse to patient ratios. These are issues which the nurses have been raising for years and which successive governments, including the current one, have failed to address. Therefore, any claim that the nurses initiated strike action prematurely is clearly false. In fact, the nurses have put up with unacceptable conditions for too long and it is the government who is in the dock on this issue. Speaking about her lived reality in the Barbados health care system, one nurse declared, “We are standing in solidarity with our colleagues against the authorities trying to implement safe zones without consultation with us. We also have our own grievances at Edgar Cochrane, such as not having enough resources – gloves, blood collection bottles, gauze.

Enough is enough. Imagine having to tell a patient they have to buy their own catheter bag; some of our patients can barely afford the bus fare to get to us”. Another nurse complained that nurse to patient ratios could sometimes reach 1 to 32 patients to nurse per day while the suggested ratio is 1 to 6. Directly addressing the despicable claim by the Prime Minister that the union had encouraged the nurses to abandon their patients, Kathy Ann Holder, a registered nurse of 12 years declared, “The whole entire time, never have we abandoned or left our patients for the last two years, with or without pay, with or without the testing, with or without the vaccine when there was none”. In fact, another nurse made the point that the nurses’ struggle is actually aimed to benefit the patients, when she stated, “We are not only standing up for ourselves, but for the patients too”.

In the face of the just cause of the nurses, the government has initiated extreme measures to suppress their’ struggle. On the 18 December, the UWU claimed that the government had put a freeze on some striking nurses’ bank accounts to prevent them accessing some of their money in addition to not paying them their December salary. Director of Finance, Ian Carrington denounced the claims as “total and complete foolishness and utter rubbish”. However, a recording of a nurse speaking to her bank and asking why a portion of her bank balance was unavailable has been circulating on social media. In the recording, the bank’s customer service representative explains to the nurse that her money has been frozen because the government of Barbados had placed a hold on a portion of the money in her account. In the lead up to the holiday period, the oppressive measures of the government against the nurses must be condemned and they give the lie to the Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s claim that she would not “unfair workers”.

The attack on the striking nurses by the current BLP government reflects the fundamental anti-working class nature of this government and is consistent with its attacks on the hotel workers when they were protesting to get their severance payments. While praising the working class activism of Clement Payne and the martyrs of 1937, the government is hell bent on crushing the struggle of the workers for their rights in 2021. Although they claim that it is the leader of the UWU that is using the nurses’ strike for political ends, they are actually the ones who have called on all the political parties in the country to condemn the nurses.

The cause of the nurses is just and the efforts of the government to suppress them are unjust. All out to support the nurses in their struggle!!

Difficult Conversations – To Strike or Not to Strike

The Barbados Labour Party administration has reportedly asked other political parties to condemn the current strike action by some of our nurses. Solutions Barbados position has not changed on this type of matter – Solutions Barbados does not condemn anyone based solely on the accusations of that person’s accusers. That is fundamentally unfair – and unjust.

The following was reported. “The Prime Minister’s condemnation was shared by the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA), the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), the Barbados Nurses Association (BNA) and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB).” (Nation 16 December 2021).

DANGEROUS BOUNDARY.

If these national groups have condemned our nurses’ strike action without hearing Senator Franklyn’s side, then they have taken Barbados across a dangerous boundary, that we should have been trying our best to avoid as a country.

Since the Barbados Labour Party administration is requesting public condemnation of Senator Franklyn, then Senator Franklyn should be offered the same space in the media to publicly defend his position. Only then can the public, including public groups, be capable of rendering a fair judgement.

FAIR JUDGEMENT.

Those groups that have prematurely judged Senator Franklyn should remember Jesus’ warning about such type of judgements: “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Matthew 7:2).

I am a Chartered Arbitrator who has resolved many disputes over my 30-year career. Rather than pre-judge Senator Franklyn and the striking nurses, I am willing to fairly resolve this dispute – for the benefit of Barbados.

Grenville Phillips II is a Chartered Structural Engineer. He can be reached at NextParty246@gmail.com

Another Dark Day for Labour – NTSH

Submitted by Observing

Labour marched with capital to bring a government to its knees.

Labour accepted 18% less of a salary increase after a government changed.

Labour sat with a Government to publicly criticise a sister union.

Labour sat by while rights were trampled, employees went to the great beyond and disadvantageous policies continued to be rammed down the throats of the masses.

Labour sits silent, while injustices are meted out even amidst the voices and cries of others.

A whole press conference with backup to save face for ANOTHER badly rolled out policy and justified concerns of nurses.

When labour, capital and the government become one and the same, the people have no choice but to suffer.

God’s blessings on the Davids, Caswells and Douglas Trotmans of this world.

Will the real leaders please stand up?

Prime Minister’s Press Conference (Dec. 15, 2021)

An Open Letter to the Leader of the Opposition

Bishop Atherley,

Like many Barbadians, I am exceedingly proud of the bold step which this nation is taking as we embark on our journey to republicanism. It is with that patriotic spirit that I watched the proceedings of the Houses of Parliament as they elected the first President of our coming Republic. I had hoped, like many, that the day would be one of joyous celebration, for we have waited so long for this moment, as well as solemn reflection, as we contemplate the journey thus far and where we have yet to go. It was a day designed to be bereft of partisan rancour, a day for unbridled patriotism.

Ultimately however, that was not entirely the case. In particular, one gentleman, your Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, sought to bring the entire dignified proceedings into disrepute, in the process affronting the Parliament, the country and indeed, you, as his Leader. While I would never presume to tell you how to exercise your constitutional duties, it no doubt appears that there is no choice but to either ask the gentleman for his resignation, and if he refuses, to recommend to the Governor General that he be replaced in the Senate. I take no delight in that position, but it is the only way to staunch the bleeding. I rest this contention upon three principal grounds.

Firstly, the gentleman has repeatedly been publicly at variance with you. In our system of government, the parliamentary leader and members of his frontbench must be in lockstep. This is particularly so in the Senate, where those appointed on your recommendation, are entirely dependent upon you for their continued service. While disagreement is par for the course, the matter before us is not a resolution to acquire land. The constitutional ordering of this nation at its highest level is of such paradigmatic importance, that any disagreement on that, means that there is an irredeemable loss of confidence on the part of both parties, for how can you agree on the ‘little things’ if the ‘biggest thing’ is so contentious. A man cannot be led by a person in whom he does not confidence, nor can a man lead another in whom he has no confidence. Little wonder then that in comments to the press, he delivered of himself a fatal remark, that to partake in the process would have made him “look like a fool”. Sir, you participated in the process, in fact you advanced a joint nomination. Sir, you cannot lead a man who thinks you to be a fool.

Further, the reasons advanced for his conduct are disingenuous at best. The gentleman pretends that his issue was with the ballot. The fact is, however, that there never would have been a ballot, unless he objected (note that in Trinidad, there is no constitutional provision to allow objections when there is only one candidate). Did he object in order to have a ballot so that he could again object? Is that the philosophy of the PdP: mindless objection? He alleged to the press that there was no way for him to vote against if he wanted to. We now know that not to be true. The Parliament makes rules to regulate itself, and parliamentarians were instructed that with the ballot paper, they could have indicated approval, disapproval or abstention, with a tick, an x or ‘abstain’. What then is the true reason for his conduct?

Worst of all, the gentleman cast a long shadow over one of this country’s most historic days. A survey of the social media platforms suggests that the national conversation was not dominated by this country decisively reaffirming our confidence in ourselves or by the fact that a young woman from St. Philip would be this country’s first President. No sir, these events were seemingly overshadowed by the gentleman’s conduct. Whether it was his intention or not, his conduct gave rise to this distraction. This, perhaps, is his greatest sin. That on a day that was about Barbados, about all of us, about our past and our future, about hope tempered by pragmatism, we discussed none of these things, we discussed a single man all day. 

I don’t know when, but at some point, we began to think that democracy is an adversarial blood sport of scorched earth tactics. I say, emphatically, that it is not. That if we want a solid democracy as we transition to republican status, we must have politicians who exercise maturity, who can disagree with dignity and honestyand still reach across the aisle in times of national crisis and times of national pride. That is the democracy to which we ought always to aspire.

The gentleman may continue to disagree with everything, as is the right of any in this country, but like the rest of us, he can do so outside of the precincts of Parliament, where will not affront our democracy and our nation.

Bishop Atherley, I know you to be a man with an abiding love for our nation. Every second that this iniquity persists is a stain on this country. The people of Barbados do not deserve this. I ask you, sir, simply, to do the right thing.

Yours Sincerely,

Khaleel Kothdiwala,

A Patriot

Senator Caswell Franklyn NOT a Member of ‘The Club’

What is the DLP doing with its bevy of lawyers who are members?
What is the DLP doing with its army of lawyers in the ranks?

David Blogmaster

I might pose in a similar rhetorical manner, “What are the GoB lawyers doing re the ICBL affair”?
While the actionable answer is nothing, they are all vested members of the Club. It is against Club rules to bring any such action, though speaking out is permitted once an election has been called. The Senator, given his refusal to enter the electable fray, is not a full member. He has visitor privilege. It is understood any form of negative or challenging objection is good for the Club, it gives non-members the distinct impression there are opposing forces within the Club.

BU Commenter – NorthernObserver

The two questions posted by the blogmaster to Prime Minister, Caswell is no Lawyer but … submission were in response to a commenter who lauded Senator Caswell Franklyn for taking the government to court by challenging the legality of the Emergency Management (Amendment) Act 2020. NorthernObserver (another commenter) chimed in to remind readers there is a way business is done by the Club in Barbados sometimes referred to as the political class.

The blogmaster extends best wishes to Senator Caswell Franklyn who has been the most strident dissenting voice in Barbados in recent years. It shows what is possible if the objective of citizens is to unswervingly and selflessly serve the public. What cannot be refuted: Senator Franklyn has single-handedly eclipsed the meek voices of traditional political parties including the Democratic Labour Party (DLP). The irony, he has expressed no interest in formally presenting himself to the Lower House.

In a post-2018 general election period a relevant dissenting voice is critical to safeguard the interest of the people in the type of democracy practiced. Long before the Mia Mottley led Barbados Labour Party won the 2018 general election 30 zip, there was heightened concern expressed in this space and elsewhere the suffocating influence the Club; duopoly, political class has been exerting on the social and economic landscape of Barbados. We need more citizens of Caswell’s ilk to commit to public service. For our democracy to be fit for purpose this blogmaster posits it the inherent responsibility of enlightened citizens to fully participate.

It has not gone unnoticed former minister in the last Cabinet Michael Lashley has busied himself with earning fees challenging the legitimacy of the Minister of Health under the Emergency Management Act being named as the informant in charges brought by the Covid Unit. This is also laudable but with a caveat. A big contributor to the sloth and inefficiency how justice is dispensed and business facilitation is organized in Barbados can be tracked to the legal profession. The legal profession given its heavy involvement in the administration of government and wider society must be forced to reinvent itself in the interest of the people and country.

Some will regard Senator Franklyn’s legal challenge as nettlesome. Some will say it is necessary to ensure process to support the model of democracy practised is respected and protected.

Democracy’s a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it’s no longer democracy, is it? It’s something else. It may be an inch away from totalitarianism.

Sam Shepherd

Senator Caswell Franklyn Speaks – Hail Caesar Mia Mottley, Dictator of Barbados

For months I have contemplated but resisted writing about the rule of law, or lack thereof, in Barbados under two consecutive states of emergency. All that changed after I read a WhatsApp message sent to me from an unknown person. It simply said:

“If you allow the government to break the law in an emergency, they will create emergencies to break the law.”

In order to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Barbados decided that it would institute a state of emergency. Rather than use the existing provisions, Government sidestepped the Constitution and the 1939 Emergency Powers Act and amended the Emergency Management Act to provide for a public health emergency. They claimed that the existing Laws of Barbados did not provide for such. Notwithstanding Government’s claim, I contend that there are ample laws to institute any such emergency.

Section 25.(1) of the Constitution permits the Governor-General to declare that a state of emergency exists. Section 25.(2) goes on to state, in part:

A proclamation made by the Governor-General shall not be effective for the purposes of subsection (1) unless it is declared therein that the Governor-General is satisfied-

(a) that a public emergency has arisen as a result of the imminence of a state of war between Barbados and another State or as a result of the occurrence of any earthquake, hurricane, flood, fire, outbreak of pestilence, outbreak of infectious disease or other calamity, whether similar to the foregoing or not…

The power in the Constitution to declare a state of emergency as a result of the “outbreak of infectious disease” immediately gives the lie to Government’s claim that there were no provisions to cater to a public health emergency.

Under a state of public emergency government can, and in this case, restrict citizens from enjoying their constitutional right. The mechanism for doing so in the current emergency is a series of directives issued by the Prime Minister. I make bold to say that the Prime Minister cannot use this mechanism to curtail constitutional rights and freedoms since the enabling legislation did not amend or alter the Constitution of Barbados in anyway. To my mind, since the Emergency Management (Amendment) Act, 2020 did not amend or alter the Constitution; any directives issued by the Prime Minister that curtailed our constitutional rights would be illegal and of no effect.

The obvious question would therefore be: How can government declare a state of emergency to protect the country from the ravages of this Corvid-19 pandemic? The simple answer would be that government should have invoked the provisions of the Emergency Powers Act, 1939-3. I readily admit that many of the provisions of the Emergency Powers Act would offend the Constitution, if they were passed today. Be that as it may, the Constitution itself at section 26 saved laws that would be unconstitutional if there were passed prior to November 30, 1966.

Section 26 of the Constitution also allows the government to re-enact an existing law without alteration or if altered those alterations would not render the law inconsistent with the human rights provisions of the Constitution, that is sections 12 to 23. The amendments made to the Emergency Management Act in 2020 have not faithfully re-enacted the relevant provisions of the Emergency Powers Act. For example, all those orders/directives made under the Emergency Powers Act must, in accordance with section 3.(4) shall be laid before Parliament. It states:

Any orders so made shall be laid before Parliament as soon as may be after they are made and shall not continue in force after the expiration of 7 days from the time when there are so laid unless a resolution is passed by both Houses providing for the continuation.

Section 33.(5) of the Emergency Management Act, which required the Government to lay emergency orders before Parliament, was repealed by the 2020 amendments. It is therefore obvious to me that this Government wanted no oversight when it implemented the public health emergency.

Section 48.(1) of the Constitution provides that Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of Barbados. It is therefore my view that even if enabling legislation allows the Prime Minister or anyone else to make rules, they must be approved by Parliament. In this present state of emergency the Prime Minister is making laws for the peace, order and good government of Barbados without any reference to Parliament.

I am now wondering if persons, who were penalised by the courts for infringing these directives, have any remedy against the state. It would appear that our Prime Minister has now become the absolute dictator of Barbados, which is not too far removed from being a despot. Could the late Prime Minister Arthur have been predicting the future? Just wondering!

Reform or Die II

Submitted by Ziggy Greene

I was listening to Senator Caswell Franklyn yesterday on Starting Point an Antiguan talk program. The host asked Franklyn about the recent political goings-on in Barbados and in his inimitable style answered forthrightly. The topic turned to the prospects of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) now that it was unrepresented in parliament. Franklyn replied inter alia that the DLP and its founder leader Barrow were one and the same. And since Barrow’s death the party has been dying- a very interesting and insightful comment. I must say I agree with that assessment.

Senator Caswell Franklyn’s interview with Starting Point Talk Show

Thanks Caswell
I wanted to write about the link between founders and the continuation of what they started, especially political parties. In the case of the DLP, this is very crucial as it is facing what I believe is an existential crisis. We have seen the old faces of the party led by their front man George Pilgrim battling with the two year installed Verla De Peiza for leadership of the party.

What does this portend
If the DLP retrogresses to the leadership that led to a 30-0 drubbing at the 2018 polls will its prospect be any different in 2023? I think not. Their ineptitude will be forever associated with the disastrous economic plunge of Barbados whether or not they are solely to blame, whether they inherited a stacked deck or world events did them no favours. That they see it fit to challenge the new leadership of De Peiza is either a failure on her part to stamp her authority on the party or they think the recent kinks in the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) armour presents an opportunity for their resurgence. It is not lost on me that when the BLP were pushing investigations into alleged fraudulent activities under their stewardship they were silent but when Chris Sinckler , one of them, was given a pick in a Mottley Committee, they crept slowly out of the woodwork.

How will it play out with DLP party voters
So the choice is between Verla De Peiza and the old guard. Between a break from the past- if you can call De Peiza that but I will in this instance- and a continuation of a failed regime. How forthcoming will the old guard be when they address DLP party voters? Will the warning of Ulrich Beck in his book Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity in 1992, that we make decisions according to information derived from politicians and experts who in most cases are self-serving, ring true?

Really, what it is that the old guard can offer that they didn’t before? That brings us back to Franklyn’s comment Barrow and the DLP are incontrovertibly linked. I am not for one moment postulating that the old guard represents Barrow’s philosophy, far from it. I am positing however that at some point for a party to carry beyond its founders, it must reform and reinvent itself. We cannot do so with the old guard. And just as our society is transforming into a new modernity from the vestiges of the past or as Beck puts it, ” freeing itself from the contours of the classical industrial society” the DLP must pry itself from the shadow of Barrow and the stench of the old regime and transition into a new modernity.

In our first piece on this subject I submitted that DePeiza must articulate these changes clearly and with some alacrity. And with pressure from the old guard and a bye election in St George north on the horizon more than ever these changes are needed now.

See Related blogReform or Die

Attorney General Dale Marshall Delivers Police (Amendment) Bill, 2020

 

We take note that the Police Act only speaks to a single Deputy Commissioner of Police, and it is, therefore, to be regretted that the required amendment did not take place in advance of this confirmation.

Dale Marshall, Attorney General

To the credit of Senator Caswell Franklyn of the People’s Party for Democracy and Development  an amendment to the Police Act, Cap.167 to provide for two Deputy Commissioners has been circulated to stakeholders. The public is reminded that it was the indefatigable Senator Caswell Franklyn who flagged the issue of the appointment of a second Deputy Commissioner not supported in law.

Will the public ever be told the real story behind this 7-day imbroglio?

Police Act (Amendment) Cap. 167

Senator Caswell Franklyn Speaks – Mock Prime Minister

Barbados is in the grip of the worst pandemic, in my lifetime, Covid-19 that has taken the lives of over 200,000 people worldwide to date. And it does not seem that the Government is up to the task of managing this crisis. To my mind, it is certainly not setting the example by complying with the conditions that it has imposed on the population.

Government has imposed a 24-hour curfew that requires persons to stay indoor, and if you must leave home, you should practice social distancing. It therefore completely baffles me that Government would summon the Senate to meet on Monday, April 27, 2020 to debate: the Exchange Control (Amendment) Bill, 2000; the Control of Disposable Plastics Bill, 2000; and the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

The Exchange Control (Amendment) Bill relates to the validation of a budgetary measure to impose a foreign exchange fee by the last administration that was effective from July 17, 2017; and also to validate the collection of this administration’s fee on foreign transactions. The time to collect these taxes, without legislation being in place, has expired according to section 3 of the Provisional Collection of Taxes Act.

The Control of Disposable Plastics Bill, 2020 repeals and replaces a similar act that was passed and also subsequently amended in 2019.

Why is Government unnecessarily risking the lives of senators.

The foregoing is bad enough but it pales into insignificance when compared to Government’s handling of the rules to deal with the current state of emergency. When Government decided to impose a state of emergency, it had two sensible options open to it.

A state of emergency could have been declared under section 25 of the Constitution or under section 2 of the 1939 Emergency Powers Act. Instead, the Government chose to amend the Emergency Management Act by re-enacting certain provisions of the Emergency Powers Act. Those provisions would have been unconstitutional but for section 26 of the Constitution, which saved laws that were inconsistent with sections 12 to 26 of the Constitution that were passed before 30th November 1966 from being unconstitutional.

Section 26 also allows Parliament to re-enact those pre-independence provisions without significant alterations. However, Government went a step further and included a provision in the amendments to the Emergency Management Act, at section 28A.(6) that allows Cabinet to delegate, to the Prime Minister, its powers to make such directives as may be required in the public interest.

The power given to the Prime Minister did not previously exists and therefore could not have been saved by section 26 of the Constitution. To my mind, in order to bestow this power on the Prime Minister, Parliament would first have to amend the Constitution, and it did not. It would therefore appear that the Prime Minister or, in this case, the acting Prime Minister had no power to make directives under a state of emergency.

But it gets worse. When the substantive Prime Minister went on sick leave, the Hon. Santia Bradshaw was sworn in to act. Subsequent to Ms Bradshaw assuming the role of acting Prime Minister, the substantive holder, Ms Mottley, resumed her role and addressed the country on April 11th. We are also told that she participated in Cabinet meetings by Zoom.

When Ms Mottley resumed her role as Prime Minister, Ms Bradshaw would have immediately ceased to be acting Prime Minister, or Barbados would have had two prime ministers at the same time. Summa cedes non capit duos – The highest seat does not hold two. She would have to be sworn in again when Ms Mottley went back into her sick leave.

Even if the change in the law, to allow Cabinet the authority to delegate its power to the Prime Minister, were constitutional; we are still left with the fact that there was no one sworn in to act as Prime Minister who could have properly made the Emergency Management (Covid-19) Curfew (No. 3) Directive on April 14, 2020.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am in favour of measures, including the curfew, to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. However, I am not in favour of the Government breaching the constitutional rights of citizens to achieve that end. As far as I’m concerned, the directives issued on April 14th are not properly in place and therefore ineffective.

Senators Caswell Franklyn and Rudy Grant Clash Over the Appointment of Minister’s Wife to Executive Chairman @QEH – GARBAGE

Today’s debate in the Senate piqued the interest of the blogmaster when that chamber debated the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (Amendment) Act 2019. As a side note Senator Caswell Franklyn must be commended for almost single-handedly keeping the dissenting voice alive in a democracy under stress given the result of the general election  of May 2019.

Of interest to the blogmaster was Senator Franklyn’s point the newly created Executive Chairman’s position was not advertised to create the opportunity for the best candidate to be selected. The BU family may recall the former government took a similar position by appointing Arnie Walters at the BWU, it failed. We learned recently that Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland, the wife of Minister Dwight Sutherland was appointed to the role as Executive Chairman of the QEH. An incensed BLP Senator Rudy Grant sought to deflect Franklyn’s point by promoting the qualifications of Juliette Bynoe-Sutherland. After relieving himself, he failed miserably to make contact with Senator Franklyn’s principled concern. Listen to the debate at 48 minutes into the following video.

Senator Rudy Grant took the opportunity to update the Upper House about the status of the garbage trucks due to be delivered in November. After listening to his explanation one must conclude the Board of the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) under HIS chairmanship did not have a plan in the SHORT TERM to move garbage from the streets of Barbados. Correction: there was a plan to procure second hand garbage trucks, however, a team sent to Europe was recalled by Prime Minister Mottley in August 2018 for reasons this blogmaster is to properly understand.

Driving around Barbados on a daily basis there is deep sadness and embarrassment at the piles of garbage to be seen deposited at every street.  For many households garbage pickup is once every four or five weeks.  This blogmaster has sympathy for the inherited position of the government. A fleet of garbage trucks not properly maintained or added to in a decade. However if the problem was known before taking office a commonsense position shouts that a temporary plan should have been implemented. For example the government immediately selected default on debt on winning the government, no hesitation – there was a plan? Almost two years in office and there is no discernable plan for picking up garbage. More embarrassing is the fact we should be discussing waste to energy.

After the BU blog post – QEH on Death’s Bed  we are knocked for six at today’s revelation by Leader of Government business Senator Jerome Walcott. Te naked corruption, misappreciation of taxpayers money and level of mismanagement. This is not new at the primary care institution. Politicians continue to laugh at we all the way to the bank.

Please note: Senator Crystal N Drakes touch on the matter of the external debt agreement for those interested in her view on the matter.

Senator Caswell Franklyn of the Opposition People’s Party for Democracy and Development Exposes a Big Problem II

Senator Caswell Franklyn of the People’s Party for Democracy and Development (PPDD) shared the following email (email addresses were redacted from the email) with the blogmaster. The contents of the email is not new and there is no need for the blogmaster to be prolix except to say-  trivializing the process of law making exposes AND compromises the governance system.

We must do better.

– David Blogmaster


From: Parliament of Barbados <parliamentbarbados@caribsurf.com>
Date: 28 August 2019 at 2:05:26 pm GMT-4
To: “Abrahams, Wilfred” , “Atherley, Bishop Joseph” , “Bostic, Jeffery” , “Bradshaw, Santia” , “Caddle, Marsha” , “Clarke, Gline” , “Dr. Browne, Sonia” , “Dr. Duguid, William”, “Forde, Adrian”, “Forde, Cynthia”, “Gooding-Edghill, G. P. Ian” <, “Griffith, Charles”, “Hinkson, Edmund”, “Holder, Arthur” , “Humphrey, Kirk”, “Husbands, Sandra”, “Jordan, Colin”, “King, John”, “Marshall, Dale”, “Mia A. Mottley, Prime Minister” “Parris, Patricia”, “Payne, George” , “Phillips, Peter” <, “Prescod, Trevor” , “Rowe, Neil”, “Straughn, Ryan”  “Sutherland, Dwight” <, “Symmonds, Kerrie”, “Thorne, Ralph”, “Toppin, Ronald”, “Weir, Indar” , “Beverly, Gibbons”  “Eastmond, Pedro” , “Jones, Nigel”
Cc: “Adams, Rawdon” , “Boyce, Kevin”, “Cheltenham, Dr. Sir Richard” , “Cummins, Lisa” , “Drakes, Crystal”, “Franklyn, Caswell” , “Grant, Rudy” , “Greenidge, Rudolph” , “Haynes, Dr. Crystal” , “Henry, June”, “Holder, Lynette” , “Maynard, Dr. Christopher” , “McConney, Kay”, “Moe, Lucille” , “Moore, Toni”, “Nurse, Lindell”, “Rogers, John” “Sands, Damien”, “Springer, Romel”, “Taitt, Monique, “Walcott, Mr. Jerome” , “Wiggins, Alphea”
Subject: Supplement to the Order Paper for Friday 30th August, 2019

Dear Honourable Members
Please see attached the Supplement to the Order Paper of the House of Assembly for the 49th Sitting to be held on Friday 30th August, 2019 and the measures thereon.
  1. Resolution to grant the sum of $2,073,027 from the Consolidated Fund to place it at the disposal of the Government to supplement the Estimates 2019-2020 as shown in the Supplementary Estimates No. 2 2019-2020 which form the Schedule to the Resolution.
  2. Resolution to approve the borrowing by the Government from Republic Bank (Barbados) Ltd. of the sum up to BBD 26.3 million to repay existing overdraft facilities held by the Barbados Transport Board, the National Housing Corporation and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Regards

Clerk of Parliament

Miss Suzanne Hamblin
Parliament of Barbados
Parliament Buildings
Trafalgar Street
Bridgetown
email: parliamentbarbados@caribsurf.com
Website: www.barbadosparliament.com

Attachments: