Changing of the guard
Sir Roy Trotman has officially ended his tenure at the helm of the powerful Barbados Workers Union (BWU), and Toni Moore – the first female general secretary – has begun her reign.
Sir Roy, who headed the union for 22 years, symbolically handed over the Seal of Office to Moore this morning on the final day of the BWU’s 73rd Annual Delegates’ Conference being held at Solidarity House.
“I urge you to assist her to keep these symbols alive and strong and always work in the best interest of working men and women in Barbados,” said Sir Roy, as he gave Moore the items, which he said represent the authority and integrity of the BWU.
The solemnity of the moment was broken only by loud applause and cheers from the scores of union members who stood as a mark of respect.
On hand for the historic moment were members of Moore’s family, including her daughter Ariana, husband
In her maiden address, she expressed gratitude to those who paved the way in the “male-dominated calling”, and the many unsung heroes, such as her grandmother and grandfather, who believed in the organisation.
The general secretary also praised the union’s female stalwarts for inspiring her to reach the highest level in the BWU.
“I thank you because I recognise your efforts over the years cleared the way, breaking through the gender barriers that would seek to restrict the woman’s role in the movement only to one of support,” she said.
“To the workers, and in particular, those at this 73rd Annual Delegates’ Conference, I thank you for your vote of confidence and for signaling on behalf of the wider membership that the BWU is ready to embrace change, not merely by virtue of the fact that you have elected a young woman, but a young woman who is a young wife and young mother.
“Your vote reinforces your understanding of the need for such equality and assures me of your acceptance that family responsibilities do not constitute a sufficient reason to determine that your interests cannot be represented under my leadership. In fact, I am suitably positioned to continue to advocate for public and private partners to take account of the needs of workers with family responsibilities.”
Turning her attention to last week’s election in which she defeated her challenger by a vote of 99-70, Moore – Sir Roy’s pick for the general secretary post – sought to put to rest suggestions that she would have gotten an easy pass.
“I am happy that our democratic exercise has silenced the mouthing of some cynics who sought to suggest that there was a move to have me enter the sheepfold by means other than the door. The outcome has also challenged me that, like the good shepherd, I must safeguard the 99, but that I must also come after you, not because you have left the fold of the BWU, but because I need you to be assured that this 73rd Annual Delegates’ Conference made the best choice.”
As it relates to her vision for the BWU, the general secretary said the union would have to revisit and modify its strategic plan, adding that shop stewards would need to be trained by their workplaces.
The union, she explained, would also have to maintain its visibility and presence by giving greater attention to workers in the informal sector, those in small and medium enterprises and organising youth and women and helping the to improve their working lives.