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.

NUPW Members Should Join Caswell Franklyn’s Unity Workers Union

How come there is silence about the dust up between Roslyn Smith and Akani Mc Dowell both of the NUPW? Oh to be a fly on the wall during meetings of the NUPW leadership”.


Hogging the newsfeed this weekend is the news General Secretary of the NUPW Roslyn Smith is threatening to sue President of the NUPW Akanni McDowall. As the popular saying goes, you cant make this stuff up!

At a time workers in Barbados are most vulnerable the largest National Union of Public Workers is embroiled in a public disagreement between its two most visible and senior officers. A union with almost 100% membership from the public sector.

Public sector workers are most vulnerable with government’s BERT program about to take full effect, it seems a dereliction of NUPW’s mandate that it has allowed itself to become embroiled in a public disagreement between two senior officers.

It will be interesting to observe if the Executive Council will take action. To observers a sensible action to take would be to vote to suspend the two officers until the matter is resolved. It represents a distraction to the important job the union has ahead.

The blogmaster recommends that members of the NUPW resign from the NUPW and join Unity Workers Union headed by Senator Caswell Franklyn – email address if they want their rights to be properly represented.


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.

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Partisan Politics and the Workers’ Organization

Jeff Cumberbatch – Chairman of the FTC and Deputy Dean, Law Faculty, UWI, Cave Hill

Permit me, dear reader, at the outset of this week’s essay, readily to concede that I am, to date, unschooled in the finer intricacies of the art of collective bargaining. Nevertheless, it appears to me that an opening gambit of seeking to secure a pay increase in the order of 23% from a notoriously cash-strapped employer appears at first blush to be either an initiative that would have evoked the query from a former colleague of “What have you been smoking?” or an infringement of the concept of good faith bargaining, an integral aspect of the industrial relations process.

It should be clear by now that I am referring to the publicly declared intention of the National Union of Public Workers [NUPW], the most representative public sector union, to seek that level of increase for public servants in the current negotiations.

It might be hazarded that the technique here might be that favoured by some students of “aiming-for-the-stars-so-that-you-might-still-fall-short in-the-clouds” and, to be fair to the NUPW, it has not been made publicly clear over what period this increase should obtain. Nor has the precise division of any annual increases been published. To treat the demand as a claim for an immediate 23% increase in 2017 therefore, is thus at least tendentious, even though the prospect of an increase of that nature over a triennium remains an awesome contemplation, given the state of the nation’s finances.

In any case, the international labour law on freedom of association for trade union purposes, as contained in Article 3(1) of Convention No. 87 of the ILO entitles the workers’ organization to “draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organize their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes”. Its bargaining strategy is entirely of its own making.

These entitlements are further concretized by article 3 (2) that stipulates-

“The public authorities shall refrain from any interference that would restrict this right (sic) or impede the lawful exercise thereof”

And while no one can fairly accuse the local public authorities of interference to such an extent as to restrict or impede these rights or indeed any of them, there appears to be extant a partisan rhetoric that would suggest that the union is politically opposed to the current administration and perhaps even allied to the Opposition in parliament. And that this stance is somehow improper.

Last week in this space I mentioned our quaint custom of using words, as Humpty Dumpty did, to mean precisely what we want them to mean, no more no less. On that occasion, I referred to the phrase “the silly season” that, contrastingly, refers here to a period of intense electoral activity. It might be argued too that locally, political opposition means having a different position from the governing administration, even if the industrial dispute such as it is in this case is really between the state, qua employer and the union, qua recognized bargaining agent for most public servants.

This misidentification of the state with the governing administration is all too prevalent in local discourse, and while the adversarial industrial relation is unquestioningly accepted as natural in the private sector, the public sector workers’ organization is forced to contend with the local shibboleth that you either support the administration in political authority or you are to be treated as opposed to it.

While such a convergence of views between the union’s executive and the government may quite likely portend a smoother or less contentious public sector industrial relation, it might also implicate negatively the bargaining power of the public workers, who are entitled to look to their elected representatives not only to negotiate increases in remuneration, but also to have those representatives advance an objective, informed view on governmental policy on the union’s behalf.

According to the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association –

“It was pointed out during the preliminary work on Convention No. 87 that trade union activities cannot be restricted solely to occupational matters since a government’s choice of a general policy is usually bound to have an impact on workers (remuneration, leave, working conditions, functioning of the enterprise, social security, etc.) This relationship is obvious in the case of national economic policy (for example the impact of budgetary austerity programmes or price and wage restrictions, structural adjustment policies, etc.) although for workers in particular it may also appear in the form of broader political or economic options (for example, bilateral or multilateral free trade agreements; the application of directives on international financial institutions, etc.)…”

Given the traditional and historical links between the workers’ organization and the political party both locally and regionally, it might be a little late in the day to advocate for the total independence of a union from partisan politics, although the Committee does counsel that “such political relations should not be of such a nature as to compromise the continuance of the trade union movement or its social and economic functions irrespective of political changes in the country…”

The unvarnished truth is that by its very nature the workers’ organization is a political institution to the extent that it will advocate and support economic policies that might lead to the advancement of its members’ interests and, conversely, will oppose those that it may perceive will not do so.

Much of the current partisan criticism against the NUPW appears to be premised on the notion that its youthful leadership, or at least most of it, is perceived as being allied to the current Opposition. Yet, given the highly polarized and politicized state of the nation, such a state of affairs would seem to be inevitable. Indeed, though it might merely be owed to pure happenstance, the Constitutional guarantee of freedom of association expressly stipulates membership of two organizations only; the trade union and the political party.

According to section 21 (1)-

Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of assembly and association, that is to say , his right to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties or to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests…”

In light of this, the political orientation of the workers’ organization is plainly a matter for its membership and, although I am unaware of his partisan political leanings, if any, I welcome the challenge to the current leadership mounted by my secondary school classmate, Mr. Roy “Gosh” Greenidge, who owes his sobriquet to a solitary expression of exasperation by our Mathematics teacher, Mr. U G Crick, one afternoon nearly fifty years ago. But that is literally bringing tales out of school. The membership of the NUPW will decide, in due course and in full freedom, precisely who their elected representatives shall be.

Airport Worker Labels the Government and NUPW ‘Bullies’

Submitted by Chavone

Grantley Adams International Airport

Grantley Adams International Airport

As an employee of GAIA I feel a need to bring light to the situation unfolding at the airport , this government is a bunch of bullies and the nupw aint no better so we the workers are out to sea without a paddle in a leaking canoe.

I know the public have their views on what is transpiring but very few know the whole situation. Now back last year we were fighting for a 3.5% that was owed to us and it was owed to us because we had negotiated and it was agreed that we would get 7.5%, at that time the public servants had already had their negotiations and was awarded 10% we were told we are not public servants the airport is run by a board hence the GAIA.Inc. Now we had received the first half which was the 4% then the public servants was place on a wage freeze because of the state if the economy their wages are garnered from the government treasury GAIA wages comes from the money made at GAIA our salaries does not come from the treasury. In fact government uses Gaia profits to subsidize other failing government entities.

The general secretary of the nupw Dennis Clarke came to us the Gaia employees and paying members of nupw and told us that the government had asked us to put our remaining 3.5% on hold because the public servants was on a wage freeze and it wouldn’t look good that we were getting a raise and them on a raise freeze  the staff agreed to that even though at that said time the airport had made a profit of 9 million dollars and all that was profits after all expenses.

What we did not know or was not told was that the NUPW president Walter Maloney and general secretary Dennis Clarke (who was our bargaining agent) had gone into a closed door meeting with the prime minister and GAIA acting Ceo at that time and director of finance and had agreed to taking the 3.5% off the table. It was only when we came back asking we were told we weren’t owed anything, the new executive of the Nupw and general secretary keep telling us that Dennis Clarke had said that he hadn’t agreed to anything but no one could reach him and he was never available, but McDowell assured us he had spoken to Dennis Clarke and that the rumours circulating was false.

Fast forward to where this dragged on until it came before the chief labour officer who more or less told them whatever was agreed on in that meeting stands, no minutes were never produced from that meeting it came before the minister of labour who told them the meeting did in fact take place and why dont the union put forth new negotiations for the employees , everyone was pushing for new negotiations even the Ceo of GAIA had held meeting telling the staff they had no claim to the 3.5% and basically telling them to get the union to put forth new negotiations. The Nupw was hesitant with dropping that claim although we all came to realize that Dennis Clarke did agreed to take it off the table therefore misrepresenting us as no one knew before hand what he had done, the sad thing is around that said time GAIA directors received a pay increase they were not ask to hold off because of a wage freeze people like the Ceo , director of finance and engineering were given an increase, do you know how the staff felt knowing that?????????

The airport is still in the profits margin of millions of dollars ever so often we see and hear from the print or air media how good tourism is doing, every year since then it have been better and better yet we cannot share in the profits that are being made on our backs by our sweat how is this fair ??????? Since 2010 all we had ask for is a fair raise seeing the money being made we were even told that they can afford to give us a 23% raise after the nupw had gone over Gaia books but we are not greedy we just want to eat good we would like to shop and not be anxious when we get to the cashier.we had ask for 6% for 2015 we weren’t even going back to 2010 a 5% in 2016 and 17.

Somehow i feel we were hoodwinked by GAIA the NUPW and this government who is now telling us 3% premium or nothing , that’s 3% on whatever the public servants are awarded, so now its back to a wait and see position. Why wait ???? are we now public workers again , suppose we accept can we now ask for the same benefits back as well can we now have back 21 sick days instead of the 6 we now have ???? can we enjoy increments on our salaries??????? will you pay us for all bank holidays?????? can we also half these half days of work the government workers are given for certain holidays ????.

A staff of 402 that all want the same thing, to be treated fair we might not all know our worth but trust me enough of us do, how can we be the welcoming smile that meets the tourists when we have nothing to smile about not when we know it can and should be better.

Will someone have a heart ????????

Hurting Many for the Benefit of One – the unions exposed

Walter Blackman - Actuary and Social Commentator

Walter Blackman – Actuary and Social Commentator

In April 2015, I wrote an article captioned “A new agenda for Barbadian workers and their families”. In that article, I made an attempt to highlight the existence of a struggle between two opposing forces – Barbadian workers and their families versus the political class.

Writing from Chicago at the time, I tried to capture as much of the perceived negative features and weaknesses of the political class as I could. I then tried to show how these perceived shortcomings of the political class were negatively affecting the economy, and ultimately making life somewhat difficult and challenging for Barbadian workers and their families.

To be thorough, I also highlighted the perceived weaknesses of two very important decision-makers and members of the political class – the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance.

Having laid out a historical case against the political class, and having highlighted the fact that some members of this class were extremely vulnerable until February 2016, I dared the unions to start fighting on behalf of all Barbadian workers and their families, and to exploit the temporary vulnerability of the political class. The next strike called, I challenged them, should be a strike on behalf of all Barbadian workers and their families.

Clearly, in April 2015, the cards were heavily stacked in the unions’ favour. Back then, one would have been heavily inclined to support any widespread industrial action brought by the unions aimed at benefiting Barbadian workers and their families.

Nineteen months later, in November 2016, Barbadians can now see the extent to which my article has exposed the unions for their ineffective and, sometimes, pretentious defense of the interests of Barbadian workers and their families.

Since April 2015, at least three special groups of Barbadian public sector workers needing effective union representation have attracted national attention:

1. Some workers 60 years and older being forced into retirement.

2. Persons working in temporary positions for 3 years or more remaining un-appointed.

3. NCC workers being retrenched.

In November 2016, all fair-minded Barbadians can now hold these truths to be self-evident:

1. As a result of the industrial relations process related to the above-mentioned Barbadian workers and their families, the unions emerged weaker and the government emerged stronger.

2. The temporary period of vulnerability for some members of the political class ended in February 2016. Having secured their pensions, these members now feel less personally threatened by union actions, strategies and tactics.

3. No meaningful, sustained, pressurizing industrial action was taken on behalf of Barbadian workers and their families prior to February 2016, or since.

Now that February 2016 has passed, and now that some members of the political class can no longer suffer personal anguish and pain as a result of being rendered ineligible for state pensions, Barbadian workers, their family, and their country must now become sacrificial lambs in order to achieve a short-sighted, individualistic, and perplexing union objective.

Barbadians (local and foreign), their families, and tourists must now suffer from anger, frustration, and fatigue as they try to pass through, or do business at our two ports of entry. The memory of our nation’s 50th anniversary of independence celebrations must now become marred and tainted, and our local tourism industry must now face a risk of reduced revenue, all because of industrial action started by “irresponsible and reckless” unions.

Mind you, whereas the unions could not find it possible to bring pressure to bear on the political class on behalf of all Barbadian workers and their families, they now find it very possible to speedily commence industrial action on behalf of one man. “Hurting many, for the benefit of one” seems to be the new slogan and mantra being adopted by the unions.

By the way, hasn’t a precedent been already set and accepted by the unions for the manner in which the Akanni McDowell case should be handled? Shouldn’t the Personnel Administration Department (PAD) and the NUPW repeatedly meet, if necessary, to negotiate a settlement? If the differences between the goals of the two contending groups prove to be intractable, and all efforts at achieving a settlement fail, shouldn’t the case go to the Employment Rights Tribunal (ERT) which should act as final arbiter? In other words, why should Mr. McDowell be treated differently from the NCC workers?

It is highly likely that the current industrial action and its attendant politics, being pursued on behalf of Mr. McDowell by the unions and the opposition, do not have the support of the majority of Barbadian workers and their families. Consequently, one is now heavily inclined to side with the political class and castigate the unions for attempting to damage the fragile economy of Barbados at a critical time because of narrow, political, singular and individualistic motives.

With respect to effective representation of the rights and benefits of Barbadian workers and their families, the reputation of the unions has wobbled noticeably since April 2015.

The act of effectively representing the interests of many workers and their families, when confronted by the opposing entrenched interests of the powerful few, must be seen as the raison d’être of all unions worldwide. Rather than assume a hostile, confrontational stance against the government and attempt to wreak havoc on a weakened Barbadian economy for one man only, the unions ought to ascertain if there are any major problems that Barbadian workers are beginning to encounter as a result of increasing private sector greed and contempt for our labour regulations in these difficult economic times.

To gain some insights into the new anti-worker practices being embraced and developed by some Barbadian employers, the unions should begin having collaborative discussions with the Ministry of Labour.

Head of Unity Workers Union Caswell Franklyn Rejects Joy-ann Inniss Claim

The following comment was posted to the Trade Unions Baring Teeth on the Eve of 50th Independence Celebration blog in response to a newspaper article that appeared in the traditional media – Barbados Underground

Joyann Inniss claims that she and other members of the executive of NUPW were left out of meetings but did she say which meetings? I am aware that a meeting of the union’s National Council was summoned in response to Akanni’s reversion. It is my understanding that there was no quorum because Joyann and a number of other Dems stayed outside and the meeting was therefore abandoned.

The union summoned another meeting and she did not attend. At that meeting, the council passed a resolution giving the secretariat the right to institute industrial action. Maybe, Ms Inniss should attend the meetings if she wanted to know what was going on.

The meeting that she seems to be complaining about would have been a meeting of union leaders that was held at NUPW headquarters. It was not a meeting of the union’s executive or National Council where she would have a right to attend. I attended that meeting in my capacity as General Secretary of Unity Workers Union along with the heads of other unions. She is not the head of any union and was not invited. Roslyn Smith attended in her capacity as GS of NUPW. The Dems would not stop spreading misinformation.

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – An Uncomfortable Unionism

Jeff Cumberbatch - Columnist, Barbados Advocate

Jeff Cumberbatch – Columnist, Barbados Advocate

The right to strike is one of the essential means through which workers and their organizations may promote and defend their economic and social interests –ILO Committee on Freedom of Association (1985)

Truth to tell, despite its inarguable significance for freedom of association for trade union purposes, no one likes a strike. Not the employer who sees the smooth operation of its business frustrated; not the general public whose lives are invariably disrupted; and not even the workers themselves who might lose valuable income as a consequence of their not being ready and willing to provide service as contracted –the sine qua non (essential condition) of their entitlement to wages. Too besides, if the employer is the state, strike action and the inevitable disruption to public services might be perceived as being to the electoral disadvantage of the governing administration and a partisan attempt by the workers’ organization involved to ensure its demise.

Despite, or perhaps because of, its ability to disrupt normal existence, the right to strike is jealously guarded by the labour union and is further protected, though not expressly, both by ratified international Convention and by local law which confers certain immunities and privileges on workers’ organizations that engage in industrial action if effected in contemplation or furtherance of an industrial dispute.

For example, a business owner cannot maintain an action in tort, as he may against other entities, against a union for interference with that trade or business. Indeed, section 7 (1) of the Trade Unions Act, Cap. 361 is clear in its provision-

An action against a trade union, whether of workmen or employers, or against any members or officials thereof on behalf of themselves and all other members of the trade union in respect of any tortious act alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of the trade union, shall not be entertained by any court”.

Of course, the right to strike is not an absolute right, as both the principles of international labour law and some regional statutes have recognized. Hence, with certain established safeguards, the right may be limited in the essential services –those services whose interruption would endanger the life, personal safety or health of the whole or part of the population; in the public service -for those public servants exercising authority in the name of the state and in the event of an acute national emergency.

And some regional jurisdictions have established industrial courts or tribunals to resolve industrial disputes according to principles of law and thus to pre-empt the probability of strike action. In this regard, it does not require a rocket scientist or a law scholar to reason that the honourable Prime Minister, Mr Freundel Stuart, must have been contemplating a recourse along similar lines when he suggested last week that perhaps the time had come for us to reconsider our voluntarist system of industrial relations and, although he did not say it expressly, to imagine the juridification of the local employment relation.

The current disquiet on the local scene resulting from the action by the National Union of Public Workers clearly has the governing administration, to use an expression from the US, “more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs”. With an increase in visitor arrivals anticipated for the celebration of our golden jubilee of Independence in less than a fortnight, any dislocation at Customs and Immigration engendered by the National Union of Public Workers [NUPW] should impact severely on the comfort of these individuals and is likely to have a dispiriting effect on their holiday experience. One Cabinet member has labeled the conduct of the NUPW as reckless and irresponsible” while the Prime Minister has condemned the organization’s instinctive resort to strike action without first attempting to engage in social dialogue on the matter.

The real issue has been however most clearly articulated by the General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Ms Toni Moore, who stated yesterday that she had sought the reason for the decision to revert Mr McDowell and “to ascertain if there had been a breach of the ILO’s Convention which protects union leaders”. This identifies precisely the bone of contention between the parties that seems to be lost on most commentators on the issue.

It is not whether it is within the managerial prerogative of the employer to revert Mr McDowell. This is beyond dispute so long as there is no conflict with a contractual provision to the contrary. Rather, as I wrote two columns ago, it is whether the actions of the employer in this instance amount to an act of anti-union discrimination prohibited by Article 1 of the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining Convention 1949, an instrument that Barbados ratified on May 8 1967. According the ILO’s Committee on Freedom of Association –

“One of the fundamental principles of freedom of association is that workers should enjoy adequate protection against all acts of anti-union discrimination in respect of their employment such as dismissal, demotion, transfer or other prejudicial measures. This protection is particularly desirable in the case of trade union officials because, in order to be able to perform their trade union duties in full confidence, they should have a guarantee that they will not be prejudiced on account of the mandate which they hold from their trade unions. The Committee has considered that the guarantee of such protection in the case of trade union officials is also necessary in order to ensure that effect is given to the fundamental principle that workers’ organizations shall have the right to elect their representatives in full freedom”

The dispute has not so far been joined in the public domain on this narrow issue. I submit, however, that this is the heart of the matter and that while some are content to exercise their partisan preconceptions as to the patriotism, moral legitimacy or otherwise of the NUPW action and its likely consequences for the governing administration, a more focused debate should be on whether the reversion of Mr McDowell did in fact constitute an act of anti-union discrimination.

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?

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Akanni McDowall Punished for NOT Toeing the Party Line

Akanni McDowall, President, NUPW

Akanni McDowall, President, NUPW

Akanni McDowall is substantively appointed to a junior post in the Public Service and until recently, he had been acting in senior posts in excess of two years. He also happens to be the duly elected president of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW). His unceremonious reversion to his substantive post has generated a great deal of public comment, and rightly so, but much of it has been ill-informed or tainted with partisan political bias.

I came across two comments, posted by readers of the Barbados Today, that epitomises the ignorance that surrounds this issue:

1. “Why them don’t strike for the workers in Government that suffered the same fate as this gentleman”.

2. “He was acting. He is not entitled to a damn thing”.

Both of those comments betray a serious lack of knowledge of the institution called the “Public Service”. Firstly, I am aware that countless persons have been reverted to their substantive posts or even dismissed before the expiration of their contracted periods and only now is there any threatened industrial action. But, to my mind, Akanni’s case is unique and deserving of a response from all trade unions in Barbados not only NUPW. Unions must regard Akanni’s reversion as an attack on all unions. They must band together and not allow government to get away unscathed after this assault on a trade union leader or this episode could very well be the beginning of the end of the trade union movement in Barbados.

It is my understanding that he was appointed, by the Governor-General, to act in a higher office for a specific period. If that is indeed the case, his acting appointment could only come to an end by the effluxion of time or earlier, if he has been removed from office by the Governor-General. As far as I am aware, neither of those two conditions was satisfied to effect his reversion. Section 94. (1) of the Constitution of Barbados states:

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, power to make appointments to public offices and to remove and to exercise disciplinary control over persons holding or acting in such offices is hereby vested in the Governor-General, acting in accordance with the advice of the Public Service Commission.

So far, I have heard many excuses but I am yet to hear anyone say that he was removed from his acting position by the Governor-General, who is the only lawful authority that can do so.

While we lament the attack specifically on Akanni but generally on the trade union movement, I believe that some good can still come out of this affair. It can serve to draw attention to the non-observance of public service rules and procedures that are required by law. The procedure for employing public officers are set out in the Recruitment and Employment Code – the First Schedule to the Public Service Act. It might surprise many to learn that the Public Service Commission only has the power to place persons to act in short term vacancies for a maximum period of twelve months. Yet still there are persons, including a permanent secretary, who have been acting in vacant posts for ten or more years. That restriction can be found at paragraph 9 of the code.

Further, Note 7 of the code directs the service commissions to fill vacancies immediately, “If there is any possibility that staff may be needed for more than 12 months”. Despite that, persons are given seemingly unending series of three-month authorities. They only serve as a means to ensure that the acting officers continue to toe the line. Akanni did not toe the line.

I hold the view and will continue of that mind until someone convinces me that Akanni’s removal had nothing to do with his youthful exuberant activity as a trade union leader seeking to represent his members. I have been asked on more than one occasion why am I fighting for my opponent. My response is always that there is a bigger picture; I must put out the fire at my neighbour’s house before it spreads to mine.

Akanni McDowall’s Removal Was Politically Motivated


Do you remember that the authorities promised to investigate the circumstances surrounding Akanni’s demotion before they meet with the NUPW to discuss the matter. Well I believe that the union is being played for a fool since I understand that Akanni’s replacement took up duties this morning – Caswell Franklyn, Barbados Underground

The revelation by trade unionist Caswell Franklyn (see above) that the position NUPW President Akanni McDowall was filled raises several concerns. Based on media reports and confirmed by NUPW representative Delcia Burke in a public forum this week, McDowall’s recent contract was terminated BEFORE 31 October 2016 the maturity date written in the contract.  McDowall from all reports was acting in the more senior role for many months.

The more troubling issue for BU is that it exposes Minister Esther Byer-Suckoo and by extension the government as strangers to the truth. Didn’t Byer -who has no standing in the matter by her admission- advise the public the matter is being investigated by the relevant government department?  AND a meeting will be held with McDowall to respond to his concern there was political interference behind the decision to appoint him to his substantive position?

Surely the barefaced dishonesty and incompetence being practice by this government must be addressed by civil society? What role does morality play in our society? How will the NUPW and its 10,000 membership react to the effrontery?

BU is certain McDowall’s ‘demotion’ was politically motivated.

Related Link: The Caswell Franklyn Column – Akanni McDowall Kicked to the Kerb

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Akanni McDowall Kicked to the Kerb


Akanni McDowall, President of the National Union of Public Workers

A Nazi era pastor, Martin Niemoller is credited with having said of the German authorities,

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.

Now in Barbados, they have come for Akanni McDowall, President of the National Union of Public Workers and I won’t let history repeat itself. I am therefore forced to speak out because I am a trade unionist.

When I first heard the rumour of Akanni’s impending reversion to his substantive post, I called his head of department, who happens to be a good friend of mine, to ask what they were doing with Akanni. I warned my friend that it was a criminal offence, under section 40A of the Trade Union Act, to dismiss a workman or adversely affect his employment or alter his position to his prejudice because that workman engaged in trade union activity. Mind you, the penalty is only a small fine not exceeding $1,000 or a term of imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.

My friend insisted that my sources would have misled me since, as head of department, he would be required to write a report on Akanni’s performance before any action is taken and so far no one had even mentioned the topic.

After that interaction with my friend and now that Akanni has been reverted to his substantive post, I could be wrong but I am convinced of three things until the contrary is proven. Firstly, that my sources are unimpeachable; secondly, that his demise is as a direct result of his trade union activity; and thirdly, that his demotion was ordered from a very high level.

My understanding is that Mr. McDowall was acting continuously on a series of short term contracts for over two years in senior established posts. Further, his latest one was due to expire on October 31, 2016, however before its expiration, he was abruptly reverted. It would appear that they, whoever they are, couldn’t wait to take him out.

The original 2007 Public Service Act required the Public Service Commission to fill vacant posts within three months but they never met that standard. The Personnel Administration Division (PAD) argued that the period was too short and Government responded by amending the act in 2010 to extend the time to one year. Even with that extension, PAD continued to give workers successive three-month contracts some of which have been extended for years, despite the upper limit of one year that is mandated by the Recruitment and Employment Code.

The sinister thing about the authorities’ refusal to follow the law and make the appointments when due is that they revert officers, who are acting in higher posts, and terminate temporary officers without going through the disciplinary procedure. To my mind, their behaviour amounts to an abuse of power since temporary officers who are acting in established posts; and appointed officers, who are acting in higher posts, have the same rights as the substantive holders for the duration of the acting or temporary appointment in accordance with section 94 of the Constitution.

When I was growing up and suffered a stroke of bad luck, my grandmother would say that all things come together for good to those that love God. I thought that it was one of hers but subsequently found out that she was quoting the Bible. Therefore, I can only hope that some good can come of this martyrdom of a young trade union leader. The heavy handed action against him is nothing new. Countless other public workers have suffered similar fates. It is just that he is the most high profile victim to date. Maybe his celebrity might bring attention to the wide scale avoidance of proper procedures in the Public Service.

President Akanni McDowall Under Pressure,with documents

Akanni Mcdowall, Pre

Akanni Mcdowall, Pre

The NUPW posted the message in the newspapers last week inviting members to a meeting to vote on a No Confidence Motion in President Akanni McDowall triggered by the garnering of 50 members who met the criteria. BU will NOT insert itself into the internal squabble of our largest pubic sector union except to share a letter from the First Vice President of NUPW Joy-Ann Inniss to the General Secretary.  Note Appendix E which conflicts with assertions made by Akanni McDowall in today’s Sunday Sun.

NUPW No Confidence Letter – Exhibit A

The National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) appears to have become mired in a quagmire of issues. While the NUPW is charged with representing public workers there is a healthy public interest in how the affairs of that union is being managed. Readers will recall BU expressed a similar concern how the former president Walter Maloney is alleged to have accumulated unauthorized cellphone bills as well as issues around the former general secretary’s assigned vehicle.

In every facet of our little society we continue to hear the cries for leadership. Will the real leaders please stand up!

Militancy a Legitimate Trade Union Tool

Submitted by Buddy Cal

NUPW Strike

NUPW Strike

The editorial in the Nation of February 3, 2016 entitled “Unions must tread carefully” tended to portray the leadership of the National Union of Public Workers as immature, highhanded, unconscionable and unreasonable in its dispute on behalf of its membership with the management of the Grantley Adams International Airport Inc.

It is instructive that the writer of the Editorial would piggyback on the comments made by the General Secretary of the Unity Workers Union in an effort to embellish what can best be described as speculative opinion. The writer ought to be reminded that the N.U.P.W was registered as a Trade Union in 1964 inter alia:

  1. To be an effective bargaining body to negotiate on behalf of its members.
  2. To improve and protect the pay and other conditions of employment and welfare of its members.
  3. To promote generally the interest of its members
  4. To establish good relations between its members and their employers and the public as whole.
  5. To secure the settlement of disputes arising out of the members’ employment.

However, there seems to be some ill-conceived notion that the leadership of the N.U.P.W ought to sit idly by and allow the rights of the workers for which our fore-fathers so vigorously fought   in the past to be systematically eroded by current regressive employer practices.

The methodologies employed in representing the interests of workers range from consultation to the use of the withholding of  labour which is agonizingly used as a last resort bearing in mind the national well-being and public opinion. Yet, trade union leadership must be equally mindful as well that they as workers representatives have a right to resist by any legitimate means at their disposal those plans/policies which are unfair and unjust and inimical to the interests of the workers whom they are mandated to represent.

In short, they cannot allow the noble principle of compromise sway them away from the trade union principle of effective worker representation which can involve the employment after consultation of any legitimate means in the trade union armoury to ensure the rights of those we are mandated to represent are respected and protected.

And to those who have been critical of Trade Union leadership over the years for the use of ‘withholding  labour’  as a means of settling disputes;  it ought to be re-iterated  that ‘the right to strike’ is one of the oldest and most essential components of effective trade union bargaining. Without this right which has enabled trade unions under threat sometimes visible, sometimes surreptitious by some of those very same people who have been able to benefit from the improvements to social and working conditions throughout the world as a result of trade union agitation; collective bargaining becomes collective begging.

The N.U.P.W should remain firm in its view that workers transitioning from the general public service to the Barbados Revenue Authority should do so with all their rights and privileges inclusive of pension rights intact. They should also insist that the Customs department should remain in the Public Service because of the Border Control component.

It is inconceivable that the maxim ‘one bad apple spoils a whole bunch’ can be callously applied without empirical evidence to the hardworking officers of those departments critical to the good governance of the country and who are in the forefront of our border security procedures.

Those of us who have had the privilege to work in the public service can attest to the commitment, dedication and resilience of Public Sector Workers. In recent years though, public workers have suffered much and gained little. They have without dissent forgone in the national interests the benefit of salary increases due for the last six years despite astronomical rises in the cost of living fuelled by high taxation. Yet disappointingly, rather than offering goodwill for their willingness without reward for operating in the interests of national good they have been pilloried at the slightest opportunity.

We are aware as well of the sacrifices Public Servants in this country made and continue to make for the love of country by undertaking two or more jobs in the course of their duties without compensation; we are also aware of those workers because of the information age who complete several tasks at home which encroach and disrupt family time and well aware too of the precarious nature of some jobs because of lack of security of tenure and the difficulty in accessing loans.

Last but not least, we are very much aware of those workers who can barely make ends meet but yet continue to pull their pockets to ensure the smooth functioning of some institutions. Those working in the Geriatric institutions can attest to this.

It is a pity that such sacrifices made for good of country are not chronicled but are allowed in the words of Shakespeare’s Mark Anthony to be ‘interred with their bones.

Onward ever, backward never

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column – Suspension, Extinction or What?

Jeff Cumberbatch - New Chairman of the FTC

Jeff Cumberbatch – New Chairman of the FTC

“People might not get all they work for in this world, but they must certainly work for all that they get…” Frederick Douglass

The Barbadian industrial relations culture is relatively unsophisticated. Here, there is no formalized process of the recognition of a workers’ organization as the certified agent of a bargaining unit, an issue that that has arisen on at least two occasions in recent times; there is no industrial tribunal or court to resolve rights disputes according to law; the collective agreement does not create a binding legal relation; and while there has been an attempt to preempt these and other issues by the establishment of a form of social partnership comprising representatives of labour, government and the private sector, there is at least some dispute as to whether this arrangement is as functional as it should be. At the same time, there is no essential services legislation.

Hence, industrial disputes are generally resolved by “force of industrial arms” and prime ministerial mediation rather than by judicial reasoning, even if the issue is one that cries out for a legal resolution. Of course, there may be nothing wrong with this method once all sides are on board with it, but my training compels me to see the legal recourse as the more effective option, especially where the issue is essentially one of legal principle.

Take, for instance, the on-going dispute between the local public sector union, the National Union of Public Workers and GAIA Inc., the concern that manages the island’s lone airport. From what I can gather, this dispute, which has already engendered one round of protest action, and some perfunctory “sabre rattling” from both sides of the divide, involves the deceptively simple issue of whether the workers are entitled to a further 3.5% as part of an overall 7.5% wage increase that had been agreed to between the parties in 2010. I say “deceptively simple” here, because, as I will argue later, the legal issues are indeed rather complex.

As is usual in these matters, those facts that are in the public domain are regrettably vague, but it seems that after this seven point five percent increase was agreed, and four percent of it had been paid to workers, there was an official directive that there should be no further increases in wages at that time owing to the existing economic climate. It is also reported that the NUPW initially objected to this but, at a meeting at the Prime Minister’s office in late December 2010, a “compromise” was reached between the parties. This understanding appears to have entailed that the outstanding 3.5% would be “taken off the table” (the quotation marks are not meant to indicate that these were the actual words used). It is alleged, in addition, that the workers at a meeting in early January 2011 endorsed this compromise. That endorsement was communicated to the relevant parties in writing.

NUPW_file_copyHowever, according to the NUPW, that same correspondence included a condition that “should the economy improve” between then and June of that same year, the union would want “to revisit the moratorium placed on year 2011 increases”. It appears to be a bone of contention whether this condition subsequent as to an improvement in the economy was ever fulfilled.

It is, for me, a pity that this dispute will not be resolved in a legal forum, mainly because it does present some intriguing legal issues. For one, would the initial promise by NUPW to forgo the 3.5% be contractually binding, given that the other side had supplied no consideration for this promise? Or should it be treated rather as a waiver extinctive of the rights of the workers?

For another, what is the effect of the subsequently notified condition that this concession was to be read subject to there being no improvement in the economy in the next six months? Did this effect a mere suspension of the workers’ rights or was it an unseasonable (too late) qualification of their original concession? Had it been stated from the outset of the compromise?

Finally, if the condition was applicable, was there indeed a measurable improvement in the economy during the stipulated period? Or is that stipulation too vague to be legally enforceable? Would it now be inequitable for the NUPW to assert its claim to the 3.5%?

While such issues would clearly be matters for urgent consideration in the industrial courts of Trinidad & Tobago or Antigua & Barbuda or in the Industrial Disputes Tribunal of Jamaica, they will have to be resolved here eventually on the uncertain basis of apparent moral legitimacy and perceived right. Unfortunately, in Barbados, that frequently translates at the populist level into the partisan political agenda with opinion evenly divided between the views of those in support of the apparent position of the governing administration and those opposed thereto. This is almost laughable, especially in a circumstance where the dispute is between two independent entities…but that is the way it is. As I have noted on more occasions than a few prior, we subsist in a theatre of the absurd.

As it is, the current dispute is situated in the heart of the main port of entry in the middle of the tourist season -the lifeblood of our economy. Ordinarily, this should concentrate the national mind to immediate action, but not here. It will work itself out in the end, I can hear. It always does.

The Jeff Cumberbatch Column–The Dispute: Source and Aftermath

Jeff Cumberbatch - Columnist, Barbados Advocate

Jeff Cumberbatch – Columnist, Barbados Advocate

BU shares the Jeff Cumberbatch Barbados Advocate column – Senior Lecturer in law at the University of the West Indies since 1983, a Columnist with the Barbados Advocate since 2000 and BU commenter – see full bio.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

National Union of Public Workers Blowing HOT Air

Submitted by HAMILTON HILL

General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers, Dennis Clarke, addressing Barbados Community College staff after Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer Suckoo agreed to hear their grievances. At left is Walter Maloney, president of the union. (Picture by Lennox Devonish.)

Dennis Clarke, addressing Barbados Community College – picture by Lennox Devonish

On this a brisk and dreary first of November morning on Long Island the obvious change in the temperature dictates a change in the way one spends a day off from work in say July, August or even September. Too cold and surely much too windy to rake leaves, I  have a built in excuse for the mistress as to why perusing social media has taken precedence over the chores called yard work, for me more appropriately labelled as punishment. After checking email my first stop is always BU but through the need to see an obituary of someone for whom my appreciation knew no bounds, I headed straight to

It was there that I saw the headline “Shocker For NUPW.” Captioned beneath the headline was a picture of workers paying rapt attention {and I wondered for the life of me why} to their general secretary Dennis Clarke. As I read the story I was taken aback by the report that this union was at a loss as to why the management and board of the Barbados Community College was being disrespectful towards it. Going downhill it suggested. Again I was taken aback for not only had the door been left ajar for quite sometime but the horse had long bolted and cleared that and a few other hills as well. “It is scandalous” Dennis Clarke was quoted as saying. Right here is where this writer made the connection. Dennis Clarke the general secretary of the NUPW and the character known as Eric Exhaust in the popular Power Master Batteries commercial may well be one and the same. Always blowing hot air. Where was this righteous indignation earlier when the onslaught was unleashed upon those with the least capacity to fend it off?

Continue reading

Oh NO, Dennis Clarke!

Danny Gill is a member of the NUPW

Danny Gill is a member of the NUPW

I am responding to the attention grabbing headline carried on the front page of the Thursday, April 17, 2014 Nation Newspaper :- “CLARKE HITS OUT”. In that piece, which was accompanied with the additional headline No Solidarity on page 3, the General Secretary of the NUPW has been reported to say that the appointed and assumed “safe” members in the NUPW showed little or no interest in caring about their fellow comrades who were sent home or being sent home in the recent retrenchment exercise. He went on further to indicate that even when the prospect or discussion about striking to support their fellow comrades was put on the table or introduced, many of the appointed and “safe” civil servants hid beneath the burden of having a “mortgage”. I must take strong exception to this story. For the most part, it appears to be some sort of “public relations” face saving gimmick for the General Secretary Dennis Clarke. It also could be an attempt by him to explain away his failure to effectively lead the union in a time of crisis. It is an affront to all members to be “scape goated” for Mr. Clarke’s considerable failings.

I have been on the National Council of the NUPW for more than four years. The National Council is the NUPW’s highest decision making body outside of its Annual Conference. During my tenure, there has been no discussion or even a hint at striking against the current administration.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Union Sold Out for Tax Ease

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

A court in Germany has sentenced Uli Hoeness, president of European football champions Bayern Munich, to three and a half years in jail for tax evasion. Hoeness turned himself in, hoping to get away from a prison term, when he got a tip off that he was under investigation by the German tax authorities for tax evasion. However, that ploy did not work because prosecutors argued that investigators were already pursuing his case and he was not therefore liable to benefit from turning himself in. It is interesting to note that he received the tip off, on the phone, when he was having lunch with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and that friendship was not sufficient to deter the public servants from doing their jobs.

I am not particularly concerned about who cheated the German taxman: I highlighted that case to contrast the difference Germany and Barbados if a big-up in this country was known to be cheating on his taxes.

I have it on good authority that the Inland Revenue Department is fully aware that the General Secretary of NUPW, Dennis Clarke has not paid the tax amounting to $24,000 per annum for the last four years, which is the tax payable on the value of the vehicle that he drives as part of his remuneration package.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Laughing Stock: DLP Subjects Its Lover – The NUPW – To Public Humiliation

Henderson Bovell

Henderson Bovell

All during 2013, the country was force to conclude that Donville Inniss might have been assigned a roll by Cabinet and the DLP – as “Mascot and political bully” and given a ‘free-reign’ to pick fights and launch unproved political-attacks, even on the BHTA, as a deliberate distraction tactic. Unfortunately, he and the DLP might have over-played his and their hand, when he purported to have a message for the very persons engaged in the Public Service, who the DLP “tricked” and “betrayed” into thinking that there would be no layoffs from the Public Service and that their jobs and employment would be safe, once they voted for the DLP in the February 2013 general Election.

In a previous article, I made the comment that: “it did not bother the DLP and it sure did not seem to have interest trade unions, the social partnership nor civil society – that it is an offence under section 6 of the Election Offences and Controversies Act to offer or accept employment in exchange for a vote.” It is now shocking that what appear to be general elections employment letters, with a “trademark DLP-shelf-life:” 31st December, expiry date -are beginning to surface. The country must now assume that at that date, there would be no more bush; drainage issues or dengue to be concerned about, in Barbados.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

NUPW is NOT Representing Workers

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

Caswell Franklyn, Head of Unity Workers Union

In my experience when Government wants to introduce an unpopular policy, they usually secure the services of some buffoon, who has no official role, to make the announcement. If the reaction is hostile, the Government would then be able to say that it was the opinion of someone who was speaking in their private capacity, and that it had nothing to do with Government policy. The recent suggestion, by NUPW President Walter Maloney, that the middle class should be cut off from receiving many of the services that are being offered free by the state seems to be falling into the category of testing the water for Government, using a buffoon.

Mr. Maloney appears not to understand who or what constitutes the middle class. For his information many of those who we consider to be middle class are just one pay cheque away from poverty. They are mainly employed persons, who because of their status as employees, pay the bulk of the taxes. Mind you, Barbados is very highly taxed. And those persons pay the taxes generally without complaint because they were assured that their taxes would be put to good use in providing the services that Maloney wants to take away.

If Maloney and his handlers want to remove the services that the middle class are enjoying free at the point of delivery, they should first be talking about lowering the taxes so that these middle-class people would still have a little money in their pockets to pay for the services that they are thinking to withdraw.

Continue reading

No Pain No Gain: Barbados Economy On Life Support

The tenor of public debate about where the government will cut 400 million has become interesting to follow in recent days. Can we pick up the conversation from before the general election when the platform cry by the government was that public sector workers will not be sent home?  A few months later, and as recent as today, we have had to listen to the head of two unions address the prospect of government slashing public sector jobs.

Continue reading

Temporary Government Workers Being Sent Home

A copy of a dismissal letter received by a government worker dated 30 May 2013.

A copy of a dismissal letter received by a government worker dated 30 May 2013.

It seems our own Caswell Franklyn who heads Unity Workers Union has released the cat amongst the pigeons. Was there a plan to send home a large number of temporary government workers which was foiled when Caswell went public recently? Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler has been forced to deny there was such a plan. Maloney and Clarke from the NUPW have also denied that they were privy to any plan. Caswell has rebutted that after the initial plan was exposed the contingency plan seems to be the orderly release of temporary workers when their contracts expire.

During the just concluded general election campaign a key message from the Democratic Labour Party platform was that government jobs will be protected.

Who is lying? You be the judge.

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

Continue reading

The Alexandra Incestuous Factor

Karen Best, former BUT President and current Deputy Chief Education Officer

Karen Best, former BUT President and current Deputy Chief Education Officer

Minister Jones, visibly shaken and angry, termed the no-show a “gross insult” and the low point of industrial relations practice in the trade union history of Barbados. Mrs Karen Best, president of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), reportedly said she had never seen anything like it in industrial relations. Her [Best] comments clearly indicate her union will not support the BSTU. For the first time that I can remember, there is a split among five unions – the BSTU and Barbados Workers Union (BWU) on one side, the BUT, BAPPSS and NUPW on the other

Nation Newspaper

It seems to be finally hitting home to Barbadians – especially the political partisans – that the Alexandra School dispute (AX) is not so easy to resolve after all. The Frederick Waterman headed commission of inquiry was suppose to wash away the problem which all have to admit predates this government coming to office.

One view of the AX matter which BU has not put under full scrutiny is the incestuous nature of the relationships of key decision makers and participants in the AX plot. Barbados we know is a small country  and there is an inevitability about how personal relationships can shape public perception about how decisions are taken.

Key players in the AX Mess are Principal Jeff Broomes, Minister Ronald Jones, and Deputy Chief Education Officer Karen Best who are ALL products of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT). To complete the BUT connection we should declare that current President of the Barbados Union of Teachers is Pedro Shepherd who recently challenged for the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) nomination in St. Michael South East.

Of special interest to BU is the recent appointment of Karen Best who has responsibility for schools.

‘Ingredients’ for a cabal you think? It gets better.

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

A Call To Cut Public Sector Workers

Ryan Straugn, President of the Barbados Economic Society

Recently on a Voice of Barbados Talk Show – the government was a no-show – president of the Barbados Economics Society Ryan Straughn stated that government needs to retrench civil servants if it is serious about cutting public expenditure. The government’s fiscal strategy has come under pressure from many quarters in the last three years. There is concern that government’s fiscal deficit needs to be more aggressively managed. It is a fact public sector wages is a significant slice of government’s budget. Clyde Mascoll represented the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) and did not challenge the statement uttered by Straughn. BU remains flabbergasted that such a weighty pronouncement by lead spokesman for the Barbados Economics Society (BES) would not have generated significant debate in the country. Traditional media, unions and general populace continue to be consumed by the Alexandra matter.

One is left to speculate why Straughn’s suggestion has not been challenged, supported or discussed by others. It is understandable why the BLP would dippsy doddle around the issue with a general election on the horizon. The same cannot be said for CTUSAB and specifically the NUPW, the trade union which represents the majority of public sector workers in Barbados. Bear in mind Cedric Murrell, the head of CTUSAB as recent as December 2012 served notice that it will press for a public sector wages and salaries agreement in 2012.

The government’s policy position on the matter is known, it intends to protect jobs. In fact Prime Minister Fruendel Stuart defended the need to protect the social fabric of Barbados at the  monthly luncheon of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) at the Hilton Hotel yesterday [25/01/2012]. Whether one agrees with Straughn, the issue of sending home thousands of workers at this time should stoke debate.

The Alexandra Matter: The Role Of The CPO and NUPW

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

Nearly two weeks have passed since the BSTU instituted action against the principal of the Alexandra School Jeff Broome. Up to late yesterday [14 Jan 2012] there appeared to be no resolution to the matter. A meeting held under the chairmanship of Minister of Education Ronald Jones only served to proved BU’s position, management systems in Barbados have become seriously compromised as a result of incestuous practices by  stakeholders.

It is clear the BSTU Executive believes so strongly in their cause that they are prepared to disrupt the relatively calm industrial relations climate in Barbados even if the children have to be made to suffer in the process. Their position is further demonstrated by a deliberate move away from following ‘normal’ grievance procedure. Regrettably the matter is deliberately being waged in the court of public opinion. While there are advantages to enticing public support sometimes, it should be done based on the full facts of the matter being revealed. It is evident that the cause of the industrial action by the BSTU is as a result of grievances which have been poorly managed over the years and left to fester. The speech day incident appears to be the straw which broke the camel’s back.

If we are to believe the underground chatter there is more to the mortar than the pestle. If local media intends to give honest coverage to this matter the public deserves to be seized of relevant information. If this is not possible because of legal considerations then the honourable thing is to avoid inflammatory reports like those we have been reading in the NATION for the past week.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Director Of UDC Spearheading Effort To Bring Transparency To NUPW Operations

Derek Alleyne, Director of UDC (on leave from NUPW)

Director of the Urban Development Commission (UDC) Derek Alleyne on leave from the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has circulated the following by email to some fairly influential players in Barbados (minor edits by BU).

In early April after reading the comments of the President, Walter Maloney in the Nation of April 6th 2011 concerning the cell phone charges of over $6500.00 I wrote to the General Secretary inviting him to take action to recover the money that the members paid through the Secretariat to honour those phone charges made on the cell number xxx 2998 which is assigned to Walter Maloney the President.

I view this matter serious and that is why I wrote to the General Secretary. Moreover I thought that enough time had elapsed that if the President had any intention to repay the money some indication of the amount and time period would have been forthcoming. I further view the excuse given about the NUPW not informing him (the President) about which calls her private was unacceptable.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

National Productivity In The Public Sector, Moving to A System Of Meritocracy

Hon Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo Minister of Labour

Any slight increase in the wage bill will have serious implications because it means we’ll have to look for either cutting expenditure in other areas, particularly our social programme, which would be undesirable,” Thompson told reporters. And if we are certainly not contemplating layoffs or any reduction in wages so we are hoping this year, in the construction of our estimates, to be able to not increase the wage bill in any way other than by way of increments – – CANANEWS 02/02/2010

The quote above is attributed to the late Prime Minister David Thompson. BU remembers that it was the then Minister of Economic Affairs David Estwick who first socialized the idea government should use a wage freeze as part of its fiscal strategy to respond to the challenge of a runway deficit on current account. He reached out to the unions by asking them to be sensitive to the current economic realities.

Successive governments have used the public service to pamper the electorate, in 1991 a DLP government imposed an 8% cut in salaries and sent home 3,000 public sector workers as a response to the urgent need to cut back spending which was a condition to drawing down on IMF funds. This time around a DLP government which finds itself in a tough economic situation has decided to raise its domestic debt profile to a level where it has never reached. The consequences of the decision means it has become fair game for those who appreciate the precarious position it places the economy. Thankfully our foreign exchange reserves although dwindling does not require we approach the IMF at this time.

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

Massive Pension Increase For Cabinet Ministers

Submitted by GoWEB Caribbean – Writer Caswell Franklyn

Caswell Franklyn - Head of Unity Workers Union

On Wednesday, February 9, 2011, the NUPW held a meeting of persons who were affected by the new tax on travelling and entertainment allowances. The following day the Daily Nation quoted the General Secretary as saying that government had attempted to appease the workers by saying that the deductions would be added to their pensionable emoluments.

Apparently, he was trying to explain that the amounts paid as travelling and entertainment allowances are not used to compute pension entitlements, however, they will now be taxed and added to the salary for pension purposes. As a result, those persons who are entitled to pensions would see an increase at the end of their working life, which would be any time between ages 60 and 67 depending on the person’s retirement age. This would require an amendment to the Pensions Act, Chapter 25, since the definition of “pensionable emoluments” excludes those allowances.

The promise to make the allowances pensionable is meaningless to officers who earn less than $4,090 per month, and who were employed in the Public Service after September 1, 1975. Officers in this category would only get a pension from the National Insurance Scheme.

A permanent secretary who receives a travelling allowance of $974.78 and entertainment of 1103.27 would see an increase in his monthly pension entitlement of $1,385. 37. This scenario assumes that: he would have been employed prior to September 1, 1975; he had been working for 33⅓ years; and that he received the allowances for 36 months immediately prior to retirement.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading