Sir Roy delivers final address to BWU conference
He received a standing ovation and the highest of praises as he today bade farewell to the Barbados Workers’ Union – an institution he headed for 22 years.
Sir Roy Trotman took it all in stride as he smiled, listened and, when he delivered his final speech as BWU general secretary to the Annual Delegates’ Conference, reflected on his tenure and his journey as a trade unionist and the ‘humbling experience’ of being named by Sir Frank Walcott as his successor to the union post.
“Some of us captured and held the vision that underscores the mantra that unity is strength and that is ‘where there is no vision the people perish,” Sir Roy said.
“I will be eternally grateful for those who saw the expanded role of the organisation rather than the personal advantage and who faced the cynicism and regrettably, the hostility of loved ones as they pursued that vision. In my case part of my sacrifice – a political constituency which was considered reasonably represented and which I might comfortably have retained. For those other visionaries who also made sacrifice, I solemnly thank you all, including those who have preceded us on life’s ultimate journey.”
Sir Roy, a founding member and president of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados from 1995 to 2010, thanked those who worked with him to form the umbrella body.
“We grouped; we did a good thing for Barbados; our nation benefited and was listed as an example to follow,” he noted.
But the journey to represent workers was not an easy one, the trade unionist admitted, including for his wife, Margaret, and his two children who made numerous sacrifices and were sometimes verbally targeted by teachers, schoolmates and coworkers, for positions he took as a negotiator.
“To the three of them I offer my own Gold Crown of Merit,” he said with pride minutes after asking them to stand to be recognized. One of his daughters could not be present and sent a message that was read during the ceremony.
The senator also spoke of the challenges he faced in heading one of the country’s most powerful trade unions.
“Yes, there were days when the rudder either grew heavy in my hands or was tugged ungenerously to the side, and the even course or my steerage suffered,” he acknowledged in his 46-minute address.
“I am happy to report that although we do not have a perfect record we, by and large, managed to weather the storms. With the help of membership, shop
stewards, Executive Council and good maps we have berthed the ship which will now continue its journey under new captaincy. The maps were diligently prepared by those pioneers who sailed before. We should never abandon them,” Sir Roy said.
In his tribute, veteran trade unionist Patrick Frost, a former general secretary of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union and a close friend of Sir Roy’s, focused on his international and local contributions.
He also spoke of the sacrifices made by Sir Roy and harsh criticisms he faced, including being accused of being involved in secret deals with Government.
The opening ceremony of the conference was attended by acting Prime Minister Richard Sealy, members of Parliament, other trade union leaders, among others.
Sir Roy was presented with plaques, the gift of a cruise for two people, and was honoured in song by calypsonian John King, while being treated to a musical piece by saxophonist Gerald “Seaman” Hunte.