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Worry that trade unions are IN BED with Govt

Trade unions in Barbados are in bed with Government.

That accusation is being levelled today by political scientist Dr Tennyson Joseph, who has strongly condemned the labour movement for standing passively on the sidelines while thousands of public servants are being sent home.

He took issue with the decision of trade unionists to remove the strike option, which he described as their ultimate weapon from the negotiation table and charged that the leaders had done a poor job of standing up for workers.

The University of the West Indies lecturer also charged that trade unionists had failed to show any solidarity with temporary workers, who were recently sent home.

“How can you as a trade unionist say to employers that you will not strike. At the very least you should say, ‘We are not going to take any option off the table’. That doesn’t mean that you’re going to strike. It is the only bargaining chip that a worker has,” he said.

Joseph also warned that more and more employees would begin standing up for themselves, similar to what was done last week by employees of the United Commercial Autoworks Limited.

And he believes that other workers will opt to go the legal route rather than through trade unions to settle disputes with their employers.

“Their first instinct is not to annoy the Government. I heard three speeches, one from the Minister of Tourism, more recently from the Prime Minister thanking the unions for supporting the Government. So I don’t know what the union movement is complaining about.

“The Government itself recognises them as allies in that process of structural adjustment,” he said.

“If the Government can thank you publicly, what else is there for you to complain about? You’re part and parcel of the process of structural adjustment. So what we need now is almost like a new generation to dismantle the old relationship, or the other danger might very well be that the unions might become obsolete. By that I mean that workers will start going via legal challenge, and it’s already beginning to happen. So you might go to a lawyer to seek redress.

“Why should you as a trade union leader be more concerned about the tourism industry than the owners of capital and the Government itself? So it is not the business of the trade union leader to protect the tourism industry. It is the business of the trade union leader to protect his workers.”

Asked if unions were not protecting the jobs of workers by taking such a stand, Joseph said “that’s a myth of neoliberalism”.

According to the political scientist, despite post-Independence projects such as subsidized housing, free education and health care coming to an end, trade unions and the Government had failed to redefine themselves and, as a result, were now in crisis.

5 Responses to TOO CUSHY

  1. Hamza Bourne
    Hamza Bourne April 3, 2014 at 6:00 am

    now yall know you waste your money joining a union cause its been so forever

  2. Rawle Maycock
    Rawle Maycock April 3, 2014 at 7:10 am

    We’re not in no union we get a raise every year no matter what,an we can discuss matters of interest we have health an death insurance .

  3. Frederick Alleyne
    Frederick Alleyne April 3, 2014 at 8:35 am

    These unions no longer represent worker interest and I say again, they should return the monies paid by the workers.

  4. Modeste Downes April 3, 2014 at 9:14 am

    A few observations. First off, the strike is not the only bargaining chip of the union—it is THE MOST EFFECTIVE, and should be held as the weapon of last resort. It has worked. Secondly, it is not necessarily ‘neoliberalist’ in the subversive sense of the word. It has proven time and again to be tactically useful to not employ the old, confrontational approach—the we vs them—and engage the employer (inc. government) in a dialogical, quid pro quo way, particularly in an obviously tight situation where the choice is between softening on a demand and the loss of jobs. In any case, I find it strange that in Barbados, where there is such a strong and long history of usually effective trade unionism, that the movement (or a union) should offer the employer outright the withdrawal of the strike option. Be that as it may, I look forward to hearing from Dr. Joseph when the Saint Lucia government will most likely ask the unions extreme concessions when the commence the next round of negotiations. The economy over here is in poor health.

  5. Modeste Downes April 3, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Correction: My opening statement seems to suggest that Dr. Joseph had identified the strike as the ONLY weapon of the trade unions. That impression would be incorrect and unfair as he in fact referred to it as the ULTIMATE…


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