A Hunte for Moore

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

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

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

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

Samuel Gompers

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

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

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

Power to the people!