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

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

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

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

Why are the two items of interest?

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

Piss in the blogmaster’s pocket do.

Are they Serving People or Serving Themselves?

Submitted by Paula Sealy

Labour needs to have a voice at the table. In the past this meant the Barbados Workers Union (BWU) had its senior officers contest general elections. It was also common for the General Secretary of the BWU to be nominated as a Senator at the pleasure of the Governor General. It is assumed this practice will continue with the President of the Republic as the Head of State.

I remember PM Mottley speaking of trade union leaders of the past who served as politicians during the 2020 St. George North by-election campaign. We were reminded of the work of the unionists we now recognise as National Heroes.

Mottley was in her pomp. She proudly said that she “went for Toni” to ensure that labour had a voice. This statement should have caused tremors across the rank and file of organised labour. It insinuated that labour was voiceless.
A man known for his love of philosophy and habitual philosophical utterances, it was the view of Freundel Stuart that the Social Partnership was a philosophical absurdity. 

At the end of the Mottley administration, that comment has been proven to be profound. He was right. If the Social Partnership serves labour as well as the government and the private sector would there be any need for Toni Moore or any union leader to be seated in the Lower House today? There is the insinuation that labour remains voiceless otherwise. This is an insult to the working class.

If the BLP courtship of Moore sought to consolidate labour and license its voice, why should we expect the rights and interests of workers to be acknowledged by the social partners under normal circumstances? Ask Caswell. This represents the philosophical absurdity and identifies the trade union movement as a blunt object among sharp knives in the Partnership.

If the Partnership accommodates labour and there is a Ministry of Labour and Social Partnership Relations have the Minister, Permanent Secretary and Chief Labour Officer been on vacation been during the nurses’ strike? 

The DLP announced its candidate for St. Michael South East and another union leader has thrown his hat into the ring. This is another hat for him to add to that of teacher, poultry farmer, political party officer and real estate vendor. 

He has said that he always wanted to be an MP. The BUT was always a means to an end. But to what end for the union?

The image of trade union leaders will not improve for his ambition.

Whither Labour?

Submitted by Just Observing

The history of the Trade Union movement is a checkered one, but, regardless, it has always been consistently associated with numbers, strength, values and representation. Oh for the good old days. The past 3-5 years has seen a rapid decline in the interest, membership and integrity of our trade unions through the actions (sometimes shameless) of its leaders. It has also seen a clear strategic attempt by the powers at be to “integrate and include” labour when convenient for specific goals and certain silence. Take for example…

After fighting for 23% wage increase with backpay, our leaders capitulated for 5% going back 18 months only

For the first time in the history of Barbados, Trade Unions joined, marched with and locked arms with Private Sector bosses to appeal the NSRL and “reduce cost of living.” Well I am sure we all have seen that reduction.

We have seen bitter battles, contentious insults and massive shots across the bow of a previous government for many matters sometimes minor. Yet, silence abounds in times of clear economic and employment uncertainty even BEFORE Covid-19.

The Social Partnership was touted as a beacon of collaboration and communication. When last has it met? Where’s the BWU’s place? What is a CTUSAB???

It’s clear to a blind man on a trotting horse that trade union leadership and politics are like kith and kin. However, the blatant display of this incestuous relationship recently and the continued tone-deaf actions by the leaders give little to no hope to current members or prospective members. What’s the sense, what’s the point. Think about it….

One can argue that there are more “conversations” and “talks” but to us workers, that’s all it is. Talk. Talk doesn’t rehire or repay. It doesn’t lower the price of gas or goods. It doesn’t give comfort to the temporary or superceded employee. And it sure doesn’t give comfort to those blatantly overlooked and disadvantaged for purely political or nepotistic reasons. To end let’s look at the profiles of our leaders

BUT President – clearly waiting to put on running shoes for a jog to the south east

BSTU President – never a negative word said about her “boss” despite the clear failings and missteps in the sector

NUPW President – Trying to be Houdini and transform into a General Secretary with a full time salary while public workers struggle. Wow.

BWU President – or should I say the MP for St. George and Lord know what else in the organization. What was that verse about God and Mammon?

CTUSAB President – who is CTUSAB President? Does anyone know? oh yes, He is the newly appointed Chief of Security at the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority. (

We all know 6 is half dozen, but if employees and workers can’t find a good omelette to eat when they are hungry then it’s a sad day in Barbados. May the good Lord help us. Let’s hope the other Union with that Senator fella continues to scramble some eggs whenever he gets a chance.

A Hunte for Moore

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

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

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

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

Samuel Gompers

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

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

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

Power to the people!

Another Heather Cole Column – Another Perspective Toni Moore

Unfolding in Barbados, is the by-election in St George North with Ms. Toni Moore as the candidate for the Barbados Labour Party. In her response at the public announcement, she stated that she is going to “help labour.” It makes absolutely no sense at all because her job description is to “help labour,” and in addition she also sits as a Senator and is a member of the Sub- Committee of the Social Partnership.

Has Ms. Moore forgotten what a labour union is? By definition, it is an organized association of workers, trades or professions, formed to protect and further their rights and interests.

In fact, if the union needed advancement or a political voice to protect them in today’s Barbados, my argument is that the General Secretary of the largest workers union in Barbados, the Barbados Workers Union should not have accepted an offer to be candidate of a political party when she has the capacity to form her own political party.

The trade union movement has been at the cross roads in Barbados for some time and perhaps forming a worker’s party is the requirement to inject new life into this entity.

We all know the old adage, if only the lion knew its strength, then it would rule the world. In 2020, why would the leader of the largest workers union in Barbados accept the candidacy to be a part of political party and not create their own? Is it that there is a lack of vision?

In my opinion, there being no real labour parties left in Barbados, the onus on her should have been to realize this and form a labour party. Sadly Ms. Moore did not see this opportunity.

What is a labour party? It is simply a political party formed to represent the interests of ordinary working people. Based on their performance, both the BLP and the DLP have long since departed the model.

There are tremendous benefits that can be derived for the ordinary workers of Barbados if a worker’s union formed its own political party. An increase in the minimum wage, redirecting the emphasis of government to the ordinary working class instead of big business, redirection of government contracts, the development of housing for the working class, the development of workers co-operatives and business development that serves as a platform for black economic enfranchisement and the list goes on.

If she wins the by-election, the conflict of interest that will arise for Ms. Moore goes far beyond which hat she wears to ultimately which voice takes precedence, that of the Prime Minister or that of the members of the Barbados Workers Union. Based on her recent acts of conceding to government demands, it is unlikely that this will change. Most likely members of the workers union will not be confident about an altered relationship which will be perceived as the union in bed with the government.

One can be of the opinion that Ms. Moore was quite shortsighted. It is hoped that she has not dropped her bone for a reflection. However, there is scope for someone to take the trade union movement to new and greater heights than it has previously achieved.

Phartford Files: St. George By-Election: Acid Test or Tonic Water?

Submitted by Ironside

There is going to be a by-election in St. George North and some parties have already announced their candidates. I will not waste time speculating about the reasons – real or imagined- why the sitting MP Glyne Clarke has resigned from parliament and is taking up a diplomatic post in Canada. That is for the gossip posse.

What is important is that this by-election has come at a time when the country is at the lowest ever in its economic performance and arguably at its lowest moral ebb. Politically, the country is experiencing a rise in de facto totalitarianism, a trend being reflected around the world and led by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party).  

Coming just over two years after the main election in 2018, the electioneering engines should not require too much of a warm up, especially in this weather! The core question is: will it be an acid test for the government or merely some quinine for covid-19?

I will leave the bulk of the statistical political punditry to the other bloggers who may more be skilled at the enterprise of analyzing historical voting patterns and the like.  Interested readers can now make use of the site Caribbean Elections Website to fuel their punditry and speculations.

What I want to do, as succinctly as possible, is to state a few imperatives/hypotheses about the by-election.

THE RULING PARTY CANNOT AFFORD TO LOSE THIS BY-ELECTION.  If it does it will confirm how we “feel”, namely, that the populace is no longer enamoured with the BLP and its leader what with the serial malfeasances it has committed over the last two years. If it wins, the pundits will put it down to hard core support in the constituency.

Your guess is as good as mine, though, as to whether the BLP is committing political suicide by running BWU union boss, Toni Moore.  I know the BU historians will tell us about the union leaders who have run for political office over the years so I am looking forward to that rehash and the punditry that will follow.  My rough estimate is that about 70% – 75% of Nationnews Facebook comments cast Ms. Moore’s selection negatively. One commentator bluntly hoped she would lose.  But I concede that that is a small and perhaps irrelevant sample.  

THE PDP CANNOT AFFORD NOT TO FIELD A CANDIDATE IN THIS BY-ELECTION.  I have been following their Facebook communications and all other things considered, they have been doing a fairly decent job of dissecting the issues even for a small, neophyte opposition. So, not to field a candidate in the by-election would send a message that they are still not quite ready.

THE DLP CAN BE EXPECTED TO FIELD A CANDIDATE. After all, it has been predicting by-elections in two constituencies (Indar Weir’s and Trevor Prescod’s) for more than a year!  Let’s see what they come up with! Again I leave my fellow bloggers to speculate…if they have time!

THE UPP MUST SHOW THAT IT HAS NOT LOST HOPE. It has fielded a candidate and we shall see how that plays out.  All things considered, it gave a fairly good account of itself in 2018 election. What I “worry” about is their pedestrian and non-charismatic leadership.

GRENVILLE PHILLIPS [A.K.A SOLUTIONS BARBADOS] HAS ENTERED THE FRAY.  Best of luck and more power to the Treasury!

Moving on smartly! What about issues to be raised in this by-election?

There are many hot, topical issues to inspire debate and conspire about: Covid-19, union betrayal, same sex unions, homosexual marriages, tourism, crime, BEST, neglect of the constituency, the push for republic status for Barbados and the “Thrown” Speech in general. The more enlightened and skilful party (parties) will throw in the Chinese influence in Barbados and the Caribbean.  Just remember I did say “enlightened”!

All in all, I am looking forward to political theatre at its BEST!

Barbados Cabinet Breaks Promise to Consult BWU re: transfer of BTPA to BTMI

The embedded documents support a view the government has backtracked on a promise made to employees at the BTPA and the Barbados Workers Union. In the interest of transparency and integrity it is important for the Mia Mottley led government to clarify the matter if it is to sustain the confidence of the people it serves. The last thing the citizenry wants is a government that was voted to office with an overwhelming mandate to mimic the decisions of its successor.

See relevant documents shared with Barbados Underground.



LIFO in 2018?

The following statement was issued by Toni Moore, General Secretary of the Barbados Workers Union (BWU). The blogmaster confesses the statement raised many questions regarding the retrenchment exercise government is committed to executing as part of BERT.

  1. Why in 2018 the LIFO is the method used to identify workers to sever from the public service? Toni Moore hinted in her statement that the PRDS (a performance system) does not command the confidence of the BWU. We have to ask why?
  2. How does government expect to change the culture of the civil service using LIFO as the basis to send home workers?
  3. Prime Minister Mia Mottley has repeatedly stated that the government has held several meetings with the social partnership to ensure all are on the same page. Did we hear Toni Moore suggest that there is some confusion with the execution of the retrenchment.
  4. What is the objective of government’s retrenchment exercise? Is it a cost cutting measure or is the government sincere in the suggestion that obsolete functions have been retired

The Caswell Franklyn Column – Trade Unions Accepting Bribes/Concessions from Government

While addressing the last annual general conference of her union, the General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), Toni Moore, complained about what she saw as union busting tactics being employed by Cost-U-Less. She sought to connect the granting of duty free concessions by Government as the reason why that company felt “empowered” to engage in such tactics.

To be honest, that reasoning escaped me but somehow it was sufficient to bring down the ire of the Honourable Chris Sinckler, on her. And in a nonsensical retort, while addressing his party faithful he claimed that it was logical to conclude that since Government has given the General Secretary and the BWU tax concessions on a Mercedes Benz, Ms Moore felt empowered to be bashing Government.

If that is the quality of the reasoning of the person who holds the portfolio of Minister of Finance, it is no wonder that the country is in such dire straits. The General Secretary has raised an issue that impinges on the constitutional rights of workers. Any half decent minister of the Crown would have been grateful for that information and join her in an effort to protect the dignity of the workers of this country, whom he is sworn to serve. What has made this minister so cocky that he can make light and be so disrespectful of the genuine concerns of the people whose votes he would be seeking in the upcoming elections.

Even though his behaviour is below that expected of a senior political figure, he has drawn attention to two issues, tax concessions and union busting. They are too serious to be sidestepped by the dismissive twattle of a government minister, who is more interested in providing comic relief for party members, at a branch meeting, than dealing with fundamental workers’ rights issues.

Union busting has become so pervasive, especially during this prolonged recession and the authorities have failed to adequately deal with the problem for the sake of maintaining jobs. Ms Moore has correctly stated that people are losing jobs because they have committed the cardinal sin of becoming union members.

In accordance with section 40A of the Trade Union Act, it is a crime to dismiss a worker because he has become a member of a trade union. However, in my experience, the police were not aware that it constitutes a criminal offence. Unfortunately, when such a matter is reported to police, they do not take it seriously and no action is taken against the offending employer.

In an attempt to put the General Secretary on the back foot, the minister revealed that BWU had benefited from tax concessions on a Mercedes Benz. However, in my opinion, while trying to embarrass Ms Moore, the minister effectively shot himself in the foot. He must now explain the basis for granting tax concessions on high end vehicles for the two major unions.

Before I go further, I must make it clear that I am not accusing any trade unionists of wrongdoing, by accepting charity from employers. But to me, as the Americans would say, the optics are bad.

If you were to hire a lawyer to represent you in a matter, and thereafter, discover that your representative was taking undisclosed gifts from your opponent. How would you feel? Now pray tell me, how is that different for trade unions to take undisclosed concessions/gifts from the employer, especially when the law requires disclosure.

In accordance with the Duties, Taxes and Other Payments (Exemption) Act, the Minister of Finance may, by order, exempt any person, business or undertaking from the payment of any duty, tax or other money. However, section 4 of that act provides that any such order is subject to negative resolution.

Section 41.(2) of the Interpretation Act explains, when a statutory instrument is subject to negative resolution, it must be laid in Parliament for forty days, and during that period, either house can by resolution vote to annul the instrument. Any such order must also be published in the Official Gazette.

I have made a diligent search and can find no evidence that any such order was ever published. I am therefore asking the honourable minister, when did he comply with the law, in relation to granting tax concessions on motor vehicles for the leaders of major trade unions? And if he had not done so, why the secrecy?

Champagne taste and mauby pockets have brought trade unions into disrepute.

Toni Moore and Akanni McDowall: No More Licks!

Submitted by William Skinner

Toni Moore, General Secretary, BWU and Akanni Mc Dowall, President, NUPW

Toni Moore, General Secretary, BWU and Akanni Mc Dowall, President, NUPW

Refreshingly, the new young leadership of the two major trade unions has made its collective presence felt. This is good because we all know that the old guard had become soft and was not prepared to take on the current administration.

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Barbados Workers Union FACE OFF With Barbados Light & Power Company

Submitted by Anthony Davis

The Barbados Light & Power Company Limited (BL&P) has been warned that it will not be allowed to send home workers before discussing the matter with the Social Partnership. Any attempt to do so will be met with strong resistance from the combined forces of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and Ministry of Labour, the union’s General Secretary Toni Moore cautioned today – Barbados Today

tonimooreI sincerely hope that this is not another empty threat by one of the trade unions in this country. Recently they are better known for their bark rather than their bite, as they have not represented their constituents to the best of their abilities because they were sleeping too soundly in their beds with this Government.

I take umbrage at the behaviour of the head of the BL&P when she states that it is either layoffs or a rate hike. Is she a member of the Fair Trading Commission (FTC) that she can make such an audacious statement?

In other words, does she have any say whatsoever in whether that company would be granted a rate hike?

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BWU Wants Moore

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Think Tank and Watchdog Group

Toni Moore - General Secretary of the BWU

Toni Moore – General Secretary of the BWU

The Mahogany Coconut Group welcomes the new General Secretary of the powerful Barbados Workers Union (BWU), Comrade Toni Moore. She is the first woman to head what is probably one of the best organized workers unions throughout the Caribbean. It is a tribute to the Barbadian women, who have always been in the struggle for the betterment of the working class. Our faith in the younger Caribbean generation is fortified by Comrade Moore’s elevation at the young age of thirty eight.

Comrade Moore takes over the union at a time when the workers in Barbados are under tremendous pressure as the government’s austerity program becomes more intensified and far reaching. The Transport Board, and other government statutory boards, have suffered from widespread retrenchment and the unions, in many cases have not been as vigilant, as we would have wanted them to be in fighting government on behalf of their members. Many workers of the BWU believe they have been betrayed by their leadership, and have speared no effort in publicly accusing the BWU and other unions of dropping the ball.

Her task will be to reignite that spirit of activism that has fallen so badly and we hope that she quickly demonstrates a desire to carry the fight to both the public and private sector employers. We are aware that her predecessor, Sir Roy Trotman, has left some issues on the table which she must address with great speed. We speak of the current Employment Rights Bill that employers have been exploiting because of loop holes. Comrade Moore should also move quickly to mend all fences in the Social Partnership if it is to become any worthwhile factor in the social and economic development of the country.

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