Belle: Trade unions ‘above the law’

Dr. George Belle
Dr. George Belle

Trade unions are lawless ≠– in the sense that they stand above and beyond it.

This assertion came from political scientist,† Dr. George Belle, who was the featured speaker this morning at the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union’s annual general meeting held at Queen’s College, Husbands, St. James.

Speaking to the theme Relevance of Trade Unions in an Era of Political Pressure and Economic Turbulence, Belle said though that statement was not an indication that they ignored the law, but simply that it was a fundamental error of the understanding of power to believe that for trade unions to have life and†be sustainable they must depend on the law.

“People made trade unions because they feel they need trade unions or something like a trade union and this happens law or no law. The trade union has to be present whether the law says it is legal or illegal and on the basis of struggle and the capacity to defend itself and its members. The trade union does depend on law to come into being or persist in being, but it is in that sense lawless because it stands beyond and above law,” he said.

Stating that trade unions emerged as a result of pressures and turbulence, Belle noted that they would always be relevant since there was always pressure, struggles and economic dissatisfaction.

“There is no time of plenty, there is a time of eternal scarcity partly because of the difficult environment we live in and that is partly to do with why we have all these struggles†and conflicts and the attempt to resolve things through the use of power,” he stated.

Belle urged teachers to ignore those who criticised their choice to join the union, stating that they should not quiver at the claims of those who charged that joining a union was irrational, and as educated teachers they themselves should be rational. (KC)

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