Wrong call!

PM blasts NUPW over strike

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has led a forceful attack on the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), comparing it to “fanatics armed with guns” and accusing it of using bluster, bullying and blackmail tactics in its dispute with the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC), over the forced retirement of 10 of its employees who have reached the age of 60.

And with the union threatening to escalate its protest, Stuart said his administration was prepared to take necessary action to protect the country and the trade union movement, noting that the Government had the power, under Section 48 of the Constitution of Barbados, to introduce legislation for various occurrences. In addition, he said, the Government was prepared to take the issue to court as a matter of urgency.

The Prime Minister, who said he was “not in a doze” but had been observing and listening closely to all “the utterances”, made the comments in a frank interview with the media on the sidelines of the National Consultation on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development seminar at the Accra Beach Hotel and Spa this morning.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart

“We have been told that this is new trade unionism. The implication sometimes given that the people who were there before did not know what they were doing, and that this new trade unionism is supposed to come to teach all of us, including those who have demitted office recently in the NUPW and elsewhere, how trade unionism is really to be practiced,” said Stuart.

“I have listened very carefully to all the utterances and I have noticed a few things. One, I have noted now that process has been banished to the limbo of forgotten things. You don’t have to go through processes anymore. I have noted that the word negotiation has been emptied of all of its significance. So you don’t have to negotiate anymore. What you do is to use bluster, to use bullying and to use blackmail,” said Stuart, who accused the union of starting with “last resort rather than first resort”.

Echoing the words of his Minister of Labour Dr Esther Byer following her failed attempts last week to get the two sides to resolve the dispute, Stuart argued that “a system of volunteerism” in industrial relations had worked for the country “ever since trade unions took shape in Barbados”, and that there had been no law in place to regulate it.

“We have relied on the maturity, the conscientiousness, the civic mindedness and good will of our trade union leaders to manage this process. And let’s be very frank about it. It has worked very, very well for us over the years.

“So we were all justified in believing that our system of volunteerism was the best system for Barbados because it worked for us. All of a sudden now, like the rushing mighty wind on the day of Pentecost, we have some new actors on the scene who are basically telling us that all of that was nonsense; that what you do is to shut the country down at the first opportunity; that the aim of industrial relations is to teach the Government a lesson. And of course,  all Barbadians have seen the extremes to which this new element is prepared to go. They have made it very clear this is new trade unionism. This is the new wine of industrial relations that we are all supposed to drink,” the Prime Minister contended.

However, Stuart made it clear that this “new wine” could not be accommodated “in old wineskins”, and, without going into details, warned that any steps the Government decided to take in the matter would do “a number of things” including protecting the trade union movement.

“The trade union movement has to be protected from adventurers. It has to be allowed to do its work,” insisted Stuart, stressing that “process has to be protected”.

“Section 48 of the Constitution of Barbados makes very clear that Parliament could make laws for the peace, the order and the good Government of Barbados. There is good reason why that section is there. It is there since 1966,” he warned.

Stuart defended his silence on the issue over the past few days, saying he deliberately allowed Barbadians to see the risk to which they were really exposed “if you allow elements that have no respect for process . . . to take control of the national situation in the industrial relations arena”.

The Barbadian leader said as far as he was aware the BIDC had put forward a number of proposals to the NUPW, adding that there was “a cleavage between the two sides” when it came to the interpretation of section 8 of the Statutory Boards (Pensions) Act.

“That is at the heart of the whole issue.

“The only authority in Barbados competent to determine what any section in a statute means is the court of law. So we are prepared to go to court on a certificate of urgency, which means that the court has to hear it immediately. We will go to court on a certificate of urgency to have the court tell us how Section 8 of the Statutory Boards Pension Act should be interpreted,” explained Stuart.

Speaking metaphorically, Stuart said “a fanatic armed with a gun is a very dangerous man”, and that when such was the case “you are in trouble”.

“But as the Prime Minister of Barbados I have a duty to make sure that fanatics armed with guns don’t get too far with them,” asserted Stuart, also claiming that the changes in the union had gone “so far that the general secretary of the National Union of Public Workers is not now the chief spokesman for the union. The chief spokesman now is the president”.

Saying that he intended to say “no more” on the issue after today, Stuart said he realized that all the good governance used in the past has been “thrown through the window and it is now choke and rob industrial relations” taking place.

“If you are going to have choke and rob industrial relations there has to be a response to that. And as Prime Minister for the time being for Barbados, I have a duty to ensure that our institutions, including, and in particular, the trade unions, are protected. I have a duty to make sure that the comfort of the public is not unnecessarily disturbed by industrial adventurism. I have a duty to make sure that this society can still retain some of the certainties to which it has grown accustomed and which have served us so well over the years,” the Prime Minister warned.

Stuart said he was told “by secondary source” that the next move by the union would be to call out traffic controllers in an attempt to disrupt the rest of the Crop Over festival and “to teach government a lesson”.


15 Responses to Wrong call!

  1. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce July 14, 2015 at 3:34 am

    “I have listened very carefully to all the utterances and I have noticed a few things.” Fanatics armed with guns bluster bullying and blackmail, they are making opportunistic noises in his head, he have noted now that the process has been banished to the limbo of forgotten, he haven’t doze, but was fast asleep and saying that, he intended to say “no more” on the issue after today. The person that went to the fowl cub and wake up Freundel could not be thinking straight.

  2. ken July 14, 2015 at 6:57 am

    “Good” is relative to whatever situation you are in or want. It is “good” for two men to marry, it is “good” for a man to sleep with a cow, it is “good” to eat rats, etc. What may be good for some, however, may be bad for others. Therefore good is not absolute. Good is conditional, and as such can be used to form a dictatorship when placed into a constitution in order to govern people. Section 48 of the Constitution of Barbados, that Freudel is wielding around so callously, speaks to the “power” he has and can be used against, what he deems as, this blackmailing and bullying band of bandits. Section 48 says that : Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and GOOD government of Barbados. This tells any rational thinking person that the Constitution can be tailored to suit a dictatorship if the dictator determines that his actions are “good”. It is therefore “not good” for a trade union to exercise their rights in Barbados in order to stand up for a group of workers that are treated unfairly, therefore, Freudel will do something about it. It is a pity what this prime minister is willing to open his mouth and talk about, and who he will talk against. This man who has to be forced to talk to his people as a leader always finds occasions to attack them. This is NOT GOOD.

  3. Alishakka July 14, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Our Prime Minister is correct you cannot put guns in the hand of a fanatic and the young people need to understand that their is a protocol for such. This country will not allowed any form of or unrest to endanger the lives of the innocent this leader or president who ever he think he is need to understand this is a civil society and he will not have the support of the people. He should have stand up for those thousands who are paid under $300 a week not the 10 who are paid over $3000 per month he is following the money, and just another opportunist.

  4. Carl Harper July 14, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Let Minister Inniss rescind those termination letters and bring the BIDC employees back to work while awaiting the court’s decision and the NUPW will call off the strike; it’s that simple. Why would you allow Barbados to free-fall into an islandwide shutdown when you have the power to avert it? It makes no sense to me.

    The only reason could be to make this strike action the new “whipping boy” for the island’s continued economic failures, since the overused “global recession” has lost its effectiveness. Hints of such have already been coming from finance minister Chris Sinckler, that the industrial action could “reverse the economic gains” the country is making. One must ask: where are the gains he is referring to? The planned shutdown might only give the CBB governor good reason to delay presentation of the dismal Q2 economic results.

    The Prime Minister said he deliberately refused to “inject himself” in the BIDC saga to let everyone see what happens when “fanatics armed with guns” are allowed to roam unrestrained. Mr Prime Minister, if you are in a position to thwart another World War I, why would you sit idly by and allow it to occur on your watch? Show some leadership rather than descending to your meaningless political diatribe.

    Just as no one was able to control the time frame in which the Employment Rights Tribunal heard the case of the former NCC workers, nobody is in a position to say how quickly the court will decide on the BIDC matter. In this regard, the unions are moving ahead with the next phase of operations.

    Bearing in mind that the prime minister assured the unions that what the Tribunal had to do on the NCC matter could be done in quick time, he was taken at his word. And what is the status of that case today? Eighteen months later and not a peep out of the Tribunal. The case is still logged among 70-plus others.

    Hence there is no remaining goodwill left on the part of Government for the NUPW or BWU to trust anything that Inniss or Stuart says.

    • Tamarind Rod July 14, 2015 at 11:54 am

      Greece is a nation of 10.8 million people, and they are dead broke due to lots of wrangling and gross mismanagement. P.M. Stuart and his team are trying desperately to stabilize the economy, but are being hampered by the unions and the political opposition. In August of 1981,Ronald Reagan fired 11000 air traffic controllers, who on orders from their union, refused to return to work. Barbados has an unemployment rate of 11.5% or higher. I say to P.M. Stuart, man-up, and order those striking workers back to work, and if they don’t comply, fire every last one of them, and delist those trouble making unions. Do not let a few title seekers(Sirs, Dames, QC’S, PAAH’S) destabilize Barbados.

      • loser July 14, 2015 at 4:30 pm

        Mr. Rod those title seekers have their titles already, if you care to look you will find that they marched 10,000 up and down for nothing but an empty meaningless three letters, which were granted by their political opponents, makes you wonder just how muddy the political/trade union hog trough really was.

  5. jrsmith July 14, 2015 at 10:36 am

    As like all the others , politicians, upper bank management and others, should realize by now ,its better not to open they mouths, they not only catch flies , but spits out pure BS.


    This matter, would someone put me right (help). I thought in barbados there is a body of arbitrators, who matters as this is taken before them.

  6. Realist July 14, 2015 at 10:37 am

    Hahahaha…at least somebody is getting the Prime Minister to talk. Good for you NUPW Pres. Put on a bit more pressure to now get him to work.

    Shout out to the PM…how ya doin?

  7. jrsmith July 14, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Remember , bajans, remember, the time to cast that vote, be like the elephants, never forget the treatment we are all getting.

  8. Jus me July 14, 2015 at 11:01 am

    Well Mr Pm.
    De laff on yuh now bo.
    Yuh wuz jus ridicule DEM same folk,as paper tigers


  9. Patrick Blackman July 14, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    @jrsmith – hail, remember I told you sometime ago before this stuff started that there was a constructed effort afoot to destabalize this country, well we are having it now and it is not the unions nor the BLP.

  10. jrsmith July 14, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    @,Patrick,B, Hail, nail on the head again, you are right ,are we awaiting nail in the coffin.

    What is so obvious, the barbados management team, shows no real concern about anything,you can feel the negativity, from them.


  11. Alec Pierre July 14, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Tamarind Rod: why don’t you educate yourself before going into print and writing rubbish. In 1981 President Reagan fired the 11,000 traffic controllers who went on strike because under U.S. laws air traffic control is categorized as an ESSENTIAL SERVICE and the strike was, therefore, illegal

    • Tamarind Rod July 15, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Thanks for the education, Mr. Pierre. That is exactly my point. SSA is an essential service, so if it is not written law, then the P.M. should make it as such.

  12. Sandra basc July 14, 2015 at 7:33 pm

    The PM has awaken and again true to form he comes with threats and the same bullying that he accuses the union of. No solutions to the problems or comfort to the people of this country.

    Mr PM your government has practised nothing but “choke and rob” management for the last 8 years so what is your issue now?
    For a supposedly intelligent man the PM can never offer anything tangible to the issues in this country.

    Just know Mr Stuart it is best that you continue sleeping.


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