Workers treated like ‘modern day slaves’

An industrial relations battle is looming between the Unity Workers Union (UWU) and Island Furniture Ltd in Vaucluse Factory, St Thomas over terms and conditions of work and representation for its 13 employees.

UWU General Secretary Caswell Franklyn today accused the furniture factory of treating the workers as modern day slaves, charging that the only difference was that the workers were not being whipped by their bosses.

Caswell Franklyn
Caswell Franklyn

“Nobody in Barbados should work under such stressful conditions,” the outspoken Franklyn said, as he painted a picture of workers functioning in unsatisfactory conditions and having their pay docked if furniture is damaged through the company’s fault.

The employees staged a two-day sick-out this week to protest against these conditions and today, Franklyn made a point of telling Barbados TODAY that the UWU had given the protesting workers 75 per cent of their wages from the union’s strike fund.

The veteran trade unionist claimed employees, some of whom have been with the company for over 30 years, were being paid as little as $460 a week for producing custom-made furniture and doors for high-end businesses at home and abroad.

At the same time, he claimed, Island Furniture has refused to recognize the union as the workers’ representative despite the fact that UWU had secured this right during a poll conducted by the office of the Chief Labour Officer.

6 Responses to Workers treated like ‘modern day slaves’

  1. Mark Fenty
    Mark Fenty June 18, 2016 at 7:59 am

    I don’t get it because if these employees are forced to work under unbearable conditions then, where is the labour department in Barbados which advocates for the rights of both employers and employees, rather the union which has the habit of selling out the employees for the right price?

  2. Eddy Murray
    Eddy Murray June 18, 2016 at 8:27 am

    Stop stooping down to people, left the people work place

  3. dave June 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm

    460 per week
    460x 4
    1840 per month
    Porter/ Messengers get little more than this per month
    Gas station workers get a lot less
    Construction General workers get less
    Gardeners gt less

    Time for some increases in take home pay in barbados
    But how will this be achieved
    Increase productivity
    Work harder
    Demand your due

  4. Donild Trimp June 18, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    I think the union guy made a mistake.

    How can a worker support his or her family and pay for food, shelter, clothing and transportation with $460.00 BDS a week?

    Not possible.

  5. Donild Trimp June 19, 2016 at 9:16 am

    If the $460.00 BDS wages a week at this furniture store is true, these people are truly slaves.

    Not much difference from back in the day when some slaves were given a pittance by the massa.

  6. dave June 19, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Wake up and smell the stale pee -Donald !!

    But do you all understand that this a lot more than some workers in Barbados take home and is also not much less than some important workers take home. Go check Police Officers salaries and similar workers in the Government service. If you all are making these statements about the 460, you would collapse when you hear how much some important Government workers take home–and without an increase in pay in the last ten years, it is even worse. You all just like the Politicians in this country seem to not know the real state of affairs . Slaves is a nice term in relation to this story. Need a more appropriate term


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