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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Unions Have Outlived Their Life Expectancy

Submitted by Wayne Cadogan
unions in Barbados lost their way in the early 90’s

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

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

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

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Maloney Vs Gill: NUPW Race Generating More Questions Than Answers

It is no secret the BU family maintains a healthy interest in the upcoming election of officers to the executive of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), to be held on April 03, 2013. Some may suggest that it should not be the concern of non-NUPW membership, we beg to differ. The government provides a subvention to the NUPW.

On BU we have read comments posted by people who are very close to the NUPW which raise several concerns.

Related Link: Danny Gill Challenges Walter Maloney for the Presidency of the NUPW

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NUPW In The News Again

Submitted by Anthony Almeyda

NUPW's Acting General General Secretary, Roslyn Smith

There is a storm brewing at the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW). With the General Secretary [Dennis Clarke] on sick leave the General Secretary (ag) Ms. Smith is on a mission to stamp her authority in the most distasteful way at the institution. Threats of layoffs and dismissals have been hurled at the employees who wont comply with her way of doing things. To make matters worse she is caught with minor issues at the secretariat such as energy saving measures at the union rather than focusing her attention on the plight of the public sector workers.

She has managed to garner the support of a few Hench-women who on a good day can’t tell her when she is doing wrong (blind leading the blind). Sources have confirmed that she has moved in to the office of the ailing General Secretary and made her business to start undoing the efforts he has put in over the years.

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NUPW General Secretary Clarke Needs To Represent Disaffected Customs Officers

General Secretary of NUPW Dennis Clarke

In recent weeks the underbelly of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has sadly been exposed on BU, the result of a vigorous election campaign. Whether it was the revelation that the membership of approximately 10,000 has reached a level of lethargy where a quorum of 50 to start the clock at union meetings is a struggle. An outstanding cellphone bill of $6,000+ by newly re-elected President Walter Maloney (why does this last sentence seem odd?).  The strange procurement policy of the NUPW used to purchase an Audi for General Secretary Dennis Clarke. A defunct National Council which appears to have devolved all powers vested in it by the Rules and Standing Orders to General Secretary Clarke and President Walter Malaoney. Last but not least among the issues is the ‘talk’ that a quid pro quo deal was hatched between government and the NUPW to trade public sector pay hikes in return for a building at Newton to house the highly touted buying club.

In can be argued the NUPW is one of the most influential unions in Barbados. It seems to control the poll in the public service and because a significant percentage of government expenditure is wages, we the public have a vested interest in how the NUPW manages its business.

One thing which has concerned BU coming out of the back and forth in recent weeks is the extent NUPW membership is disengaged. The current state within the membership means a small band of people have been able to co-opt the running of the affairs of the NUPW to feed their own narrow interest.

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Investigation Needed At The National Union Of Public Workers – Transparency, Accountability And Leadership The Watch Words

Dennis Clarke, General Secretary (l) Walter Maloney, President (r) NUPW Big Boys

To those who would query why Barbadians who are not members of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) have a right to be concerned about alleged indiscretions and mismanagement at the Dalkeith based union, here is one good reason. Members in any registered union in Barbados are allowed to claim as a tax deduction up to a maximum of $240.00. In other words Barbadian taxpayers are subsidizing union business.

Walter Maloney was recently re-elected President of the NUPW for a fourth term and he conceded it was a campaign where there was a fair bit of mud-slinging. At the centre of the controversy is a substantial cellphone bill of $6,000.00 which was racked up by Maloney. He is on record admitting he is willing to pay for those calls which are personal. One wonders why it would have taken the Personnel Department at the NUPW so long to resolve a routine matter. Does it speak to inefficiency or cover up?

The matter becomes interesting with the intervention from Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Trade Union, who stated that President Maloney’s use of a cellphone is (was) not authorized by the NUPW’s National Council. The saga as it continues to play out begs the question, what urgent union matters were on the boil that would provoke a holidaying Maloney to saddle the NUPW with significant cellphone cost incurred over two months. In any event BU understands an acting president was available to attend to union business. Again the question why then would Maloney have to incur significant overseas calls while on holiday on an unauthorized cellphone.

Related Link: NUPW Rules & Standing Orders

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There Is A Winner But Is There A Victor? A Post Mortem Of The NUPW Election And Beyond

Submitted by NUPW Insider


Walter Maloney, President of the National Union of Public Workers - Photo Credit: Nation Newspaper

The count has ended and the spoils have been shared and the vanquished have departed to lick their wounds. The smiles will broaden for those whose ink soiled the space that cleansed the taint that clasped so tightly on the image of the President. He will have the broadest smile for his tally confirms that in the land of the blind he is the one eyed giant, cheques, buying club, wellness centre, bar bills and all. He has stood the test and no sower grapes can alter that fact.

The Forde, King, Gill triad will limp away and forever question the sense of competing against an incumbent president as individual warriors without adequate armour and the soldiers. They will think that the result was due to each other’s selfishness and a public service lost in a sea of apathy and lethargy. They will find solace in the fact that for what it was worth they dared take the time and found the commitment to seek to influence change. The triad will relive the election with wonderment that Maloney could in the face of argued and published evidence of misappropriation deal such warm licks to their egos and to their public personas.

Clarke the chief executive officer will in his usually unclear style will relax and fall back into a rhythm of erratic pronouncements and clearly un-researched assertions. He will no doubt escape into ecstatic celebration that the cost of travel to Italy and Spain will now be borne by the members of the NUPW as the block to his achievement demits office in the aftermath of what was referred to as a bloody election.

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Is There A Political Agenda Shadowing The NUPW Elections?

Submitted by NUPW Insider


Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Sometimes in an effort to remain relevant and to appear as the expert on an issue an active participant can reduce a well-developed argument or contention to its most simple terms. It was this sense of banality I felt when the comments assigned to the name of Caswell Franklyn appeared on the blog. Caswell’s effort to introduce a party affiliation bias as a factor in the selection of a replacement for Maloney is quite unfortunate.

Caswell has identified all the current actors (Forde, Murrell, King, Maloney) as DLPs and since I do not know any of them or their political affiliation beyond their involvement in union business I will have to take Caswell at his word. So where does this revelation leave us in the drive to bring sound management to the NUPW?

In the first instance the concern at this stage of the NUPW’s election and as a consequence immediate future, should be about competence, honesty, ability to articulate members interests, a sound understanding of the NUPW rules and regulations and a willingness and acceptance that democracy and inclusive deliberation will strengthen the union.

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The Fight Is On For Top Posts At The National Union Of Public Workers – Are We Witnessing A Case Of Madras Crab Syndrome?

Submitted by NUPW Insider (name withheld by BU)

 

Read documents located at the bottom of this blog

Well the election bug has hit the NUPW and everything and everybody looking for a pick. Some old time “’tryers’ to some ambitious young ‘turks’ have thrown their pockets into the ling. It appears that the word is out that money is out for grabs.

I have one vote but believe that some order has to be brought back to the NUPW. In the 1st place Maloney has to go, he has outlived his usefulness and has become arrogant and extravagant and his alliance with the General Secretary is not in the best interest of the members. Who will replace him? I supporting Manasseh King, he can be a bit snotty but in this weather he is the best candidate. He will bring organization and order to the NUPW. He will bring fair play and sound leadership. Forde is a waste and Danny Gill not even interested. The best bet is King for President. The truth, anybody for Maloney, he is bad business.

At this time a steady hand and head like Murrell is welcomed. I am glad that he has accepted the 1st VP billing and believe that he will provide the balance needed to clean up the mess left by Maloney. I have little to say for 2nd VP or for 3rd VP and they are a much of a ‘muchness’. However I will stick with Dash for treasurer. It has been said that he was part of the happy group until he got left out of a deal but whatever the reason he has now set a standard that no expenditure without justification and has stood his ground. I will give him another pick and keep my eyes out. Six is half dozen for the deputy but the Burke girl’s behaviour when the Treasurer refused to give Maloney and Clarke money make her suspect so I will go with whoever else.

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National Union Of Public Workers Executives Living Large Off Membership Dues

Submitted by NUPW Insider (name withheld by BU)

 

Dennis Clarke, General Secretary (l) Walter Maloney, President (r) NUPW 'Big Boys'

Barbadians would have heard the President of the NUPW Walter Maloney and his lieutenant Dennis Clarke both make major statements at the Union’s Annual Conference opening ceremony. In fact Clarke reported that the NUPW’s train would not be stopped and that it was on a collision course. What Clarke did not say was that between he and Maloney had approved spending of thousands of dollars of the members funds without the approval of the Treasurer and other Executive members. It was reported that there has been a splurge of travel expenses all in the name of a wellness centre and that the spending was to facilitate the travelling of Clarke and another officer. The pair has travelled to Florida twice, Las Vegas, St. Kitts/ Nevis and the female is now scheduled to shift to Italy and Spain.

While this is happening the NUPW is courting some benefactor with a purse so big a loan of US $27 million will be shortly be passed. This money is reported to be a loan to facilitate the construction of a wellness centre on the premises of the union. Information is that the feasibility study was not clear whether the venture was feasible but Clarke and his lieutenant are moving forward.

Word is that this support for the wellness centre comes at a cost to Clarke for his support of the Maloney fancied Buying Club which has itself attracted a grant of $ 1 million. Maybe these union bosses could tell the rest of Barbados where all this money is coming from what is the cost and what is the catch. Surely if this is good money, the government would want to borrow some for Barrack and the Clico shareholders. Surely if the NUPW can afford the interest rates then the government must be able to as well.

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Getting Serious About The Cost of Living Debate

Dennis Clarke, General Secretary, NUPW - Photo Credit: Nation

The audit tests revealed that for the financial years 2007-2009 in a sample of sixty-seven vehicles, forty-one (41) consigned to individuals, with a customs value of $485,233.39, were seen in the Customs computerized system ASYCUDA ++ as released without the payment of customs duty – Auditor General Report 2009 Section 3.82

 

BU wishes to congratulate new Editor in Chief of the Nation Newspaper Kaymar Jordan. Her effort to mobilize a national conversation about the politicised and worrying issue of the rising cost of living is commendable. We could question the motive of the Nation to align itself with the number one public concern,  there is significant earned media to be had maybe? Let us give the newspaper the benefit of a narrow doubt.

Unfortunately high expectations held by BU and others who attended the town hall meeting were not met. We could could point to the fact that Editor in Chief Kaymar Jordan was unable to control the mouthings of the panellists led by Minister Haynesley Benn who broke protocol by lambasting his host. Jordan’s inexperience as a moderator was also exposed by how she managed feedback from the floor, who wanted to hear Gline Clarke, Jepter Ince and others of that ilk?

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