Political strike

Inniss suggests there’s an Opposition agenda behind NUPW action

President Akanni McDowall Tuesday spoke out strongly in defence himself and other top officials of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), after Government minister Donville Inniss tore into the union’s leadership in Parliament Tuesday, accusing it of not only engaging in “irresponsible and reckless” behaviour, but of playing politics with the island’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

However, an equally attacking McDowall immediately fired back at the minister, telling Barbados TODAY that if anyone was being wild and reckless, it was Inniss himself for making “baseless” and unsubstantiated claims for which he had not even a shred of evidence.

Akanni McDowall
Akanni McDowall

The NUPW president did agree with Inniss that politics was definitely at play in the current dispute between his union and the Freundel Stuart administration over his recent reversion from a senior to a junior position in the public service, even though he sought to make it clear it was all from the Government side.

“If you look at the facts of the case – and I have tried not to speak on the case so much because I don’t really want to be judge and jury in my own case . . . you can see that it is a clear case of victimization,” said McDowall.

“The whole thing just doesn’t make sense. It is a botched job by the Government to remove me from the office of president [of the NUPW],” he added.

McDowall explained that after failing to have him removed as NUPW head by way of two recent unsuccessful no confidence motions, an attempt was also made to stop him from sitting on Government’s Severance Payments Tribunal, adding that “this third attempt now is to revert me to my substantive post.

“So there have been many attempts by this Government to remove me from the office of president, but let it be known that I will not be silenced, I will continue to represent the workers of this country to the best of my ability and I will remain as president of the NUPW,” McDowall told Barbados TODAY.

At the same time, he was adamant that neither he nor any member of his executive was doing the bidding of the Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

“I have no political affiliation and my only concern is that of the membership,” he said when pressed on the issue.

Asked about the fact that at least one member of his executive was a recent candidate for the Opposition, McDowall said: “Everybody has a personal choice to make. I always felt that all of my executive members can be objective. I always say to them that ‘you can have your political affiliations but when you walk through the trade union door you must make sure that whatever decisions you make are in relation to trade union matters. Do not bring politics to the trade union’. And that is my philosophy, and so far they have been able to stick to that and I have no evidence to say that any of my members would have taken a political decision. They have always been as objective as possible and I commend them for that,” he stressed.

However, while commenting on the current go-slow at the island’s ports of entry, Inniss told Parliament Tuesday he had tried unsuccessfully to intervene in the dispute which he said was creating frustrations for both locals and visitors alike, concluding that it was really about politics.

Donville Inniss
Donville Inniss

“I called the president of the NUPW on the weekend and said to him, ‘I want an opportunity to speak to your members at your office, at NUPW headquarters because this is now a political matter, this ain’t about no administration. This is pure politics and I’m a politician’. He said he can’t allow that.

“I said, ‘I’m going to ask permission from the police to hold a public meeting outside NUPW headquarters if that is what it takes’ because the truth of the matter Mr Speaker is that I’m not going to sit here as we celebrate our 50th year of independence and have Barbados brought to a screeching halt by as bunch of irresponsible trade union leaders who are purely about practising their partisan politics,” he said.

Speaking during debate on a resolution congratulating Barbados on the attainment of 50 years of independence, Inniss also charged that the level of productivity by union officials must be questioned.

“These said officers are public officers you know, and when you look at the fact that when they hold these offices they do not go to work too often, they do not produce. Our forefathers must be very embarrassed at what happens these days around here,” he told members of the House.

However, McDowall said he was concerned that Inniss had chosen Parliament to say what he had to say to him and his union.

“He [Inniss] made a statement saying I was not qualified. That is not true.

“I am qualified according to the Qualifications Order 2001, and the fact of the matter is as well that all of the Health Planners within that section have the same qualification that I have. So if you are going to say that I’m not qualified, it means that all of the other health planners are not qualified and you should really shut down the health planning department,” he added.

7 Responses to Political strike

  1. Ziggy Blessed
    Ziggy Blessed November 15, 2016 at 11:27 pm

    tell me why the union bought u a BMW while NCC workers unemployed…..explain to me why the BWU head driving an almost new brand mercedes benz while some workers in this country that she represents getting minimum wage….jokers……..Sir frank & Sir Hugh would be shame of the unions now….

  2. Cheryl Best
    Cheryl Best November 15, 2016 at 11:32 pm

    Waloss getting better

  3. ch November 15, 2016 at 11:48 pm

    Our country is sinking economically as a result of questionable fiscal practices and a series of disastrous downgrades that have shaken investor confidence.
    Our locals and our visitors are literally walking in s*** on the South coast- an unthinkable health hazard in the modern world of 2016.
    There is no accountability for the recent and glaring irregularities exposed in the Auditor- General’s report.
    There is no explanation as to why Town Planning hierarchy is suddenly powerless re the construction of a hotel that challenges our environment and full local beach access – but would stop the average landowner from building a shed on home property.
    But an individual’s rights to fair employment practices becomes an issue in Parliament? A trade union is attacked for doing its job in asserting those personal rights of a worker?
    That is totally unacceptable!

  4. Mark Adamson
    Mark Adamson November 15, 2016 at 11:54 pm

    It is time the vast majority of adult people of Barbados deal seriously with all these backward, exploitative and parasitic trade unions in this country, by forming political organizations and movements to help secure PARTNERSHIPS as the only multi member corporate business entities possible in this land. So that – by way of the creation and maintenance of PARTNERSHIPS – there will be the necessary and logical evolution of the statuses of owners, managers, supervisors and workers of companies, statutory corporations, etc., into the statuses of PARTNERS, who will be the sole owners of these PARTNERSHIPS. Also by the achievement and sustainment of such PARTNERSHIP ENTERPRISES and PARTNERS will mean the bringing to a rightful end of demeaning and exploitative work, the fitting conclusion to the exploitation and dehumanization of workers, and the requisite ABOLITION of these backward, exploitative and parasitic trade unions in this country.

    Forwards Ever, Backwards Never!!!

  5. Loretta Griffith November 15, 2016 at 11:57 pm

    I thought when these strikes are on that the managers man the stations in order to facilitate the visitors coming to our shores and save them from embarrassment.
    One thing I will say, is the weak among us are the ones who will suffer. We all will have to pay the increase cost of goods but the poor will definitely feel it most.
    The executive of the union will continue with their exorbitant travels at the expense of the membership. Cuba and Grenada etc. just to name a few.
    Continue with your ostentatious lifestyles. Time is longer than twine.

  6. Natalie Murray November 16, 2016 at 8:06 am

    This government has brought Labour in Barbados to its knees. There is an assault on Public Servants and Public Services in this country. Trade Unions wake up…Public servants wake it.

    I agree that “Polictics” is at work here because this government never experienced union leadership that stood up against the injustices done to workers in this country.

    Political action is now required by Leaders of Trade Unions to stop Labour from bleeding. The time has come for Union leaders to become true Political actors and start campaigns against austerity measures, unfair Labour practices and the recent victimization of Akanni Mcdowall.

    Why would a blatant neo- liberalist want to address the membership of NUPW. Public Servants revert to the previous mouthings of this Minister and his anti- union rhetoric.

    Public Servants join NUPW in this fight – this is a fight not only for the President but a fight for Labour.


  7. Helicopter(8P) November 21, 2016 at 12:19 pm

    Don you showed your respect to the world by putting your foot down. Some times a passive bull has to be reactive to situations.


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