Major backlash

NUPW issues election reminder to PM

A verbal battle of the highest order is developing between Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) over the ongoing industrial action at the ports of entry, with the union sending a less than subtle warning to Stuart that its members can vote him out of office.

Stuart yesterday accused the NUPW of attempting to blackmail Government into reversing a decision to revert the union’s president Akanni McDowall to a junior position in the public service from an acting senior post.

Immigration and customs officers represented by the union are on a go-slow at both ports of entry.

In breaking his silence on the row, the Prime Minister told journalists after completing a visit to St Bartholomew Primary School that Government was not about to lie down and play dead in the face of the perceived strong-arm approach by the union.

“Nowadays it seems as though the fashion is to institute industrial action first, then start discussions after. I suppose that the institution of industrial action is supposed to be a subtle or sometimes not too subtle form of blackmail of the employer, be that employer be the Government or an employer in the private sector.

“If the new approach to industrial relations in Barbados dictates that you institute industrial action and then talk rather than the other way around, we may have to go back to the drawing board to see whether the mechanisms we have in place for the management of our industrial relations are suited to this new culture,” Stuart said.

Acting Deputy General Secretary of the NUPW Delcia Burke hit back at Stuart today, describing his comment as one made in the heat of the moment, and cautioned Stuart not to try to interfere with the way the trade unions here conduct business.

Freundel Stuart & Delcia Burke
Freundel Stuart & Delcia Burke

In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Burke sent a clear message to Stuart about who is responsible for the position he now holds, and to expect serious consequences if he tries anything untoward.

“I heard [what the Prime Minister said] and I would like to think that it was said in the heat of the moment. I think that the Prime Minister understands that the workers are the ones who would be responsible for him and his Cabinet being there. To my mind I think that would be a very dangerous thing to do, and I think that the backlash would be extremely severe,” a defiant Burke said.

She argued that the NUPW had not deviated from traditional trade union protocols, and contrary to the Prime Minister’s assertion, it had exhausted other options before resorting to industrial action.

“The NUPW would have engaged in talks with the Chief Personnel Officer. We were not satisfied with the response during the talks and we were not satisfied with the response since the talks. We have not had another opportunity to sit down and meet and it appears to us that the position with the Government is, ‘this is what we have done and we are not going to change’. The matter is a very simple one, which we know can be resolved in a very simple way.

“No trade union wants to be engaged in industrial action because it takes a lot out of you to put everything else aside to deal with the action that you might want to take. While the Prime Minister is saying that we are doing things the wrong way, we believe that they [the Personnel Administration Division] went about what they did the wrong way. Instead of getting out there and saying things that would inflame the workers, I believe that the onus is on them to meet with us in earnest so that we can have matter resolved amicably,” Burke said in reference to a statement last week by Chief Personnel Officer Gail Atkins confirming Government’s position that McDowall was not qualified for the post, but his replacement had the required qualification. The NUPW has argued otherwise.

The veteran trade unionist said the labour movement was cognizant of the impact the go-slow was having on business. However, she reiterated the NUPW’s resolve in the dispute.

“We are mindful of the impact and we are concerned about the impact but the NUPW has to do what it has to do to have the matter resolved. The private sector would have asked the unions to be mature and find another way to do things. I think what the private sector needs to also do is to ask the Government to be mature and sit down with unions and discuss the issue,” she stressed.

15 Responses to Major backlash

  1. Carson C Cadogan November 18, 2016 at 3:05 am

    The NUPW has bare ugly women in it and they talk stupid too. Nothing they say make any sense.

    Mrs. Thatcher had to break the backs of the British Trade Unions , we will have the do the same here.

    There is no escaping it, the Trade Unions here are adrift.

  2. ch November 18, 2016 at 3:31 am

    A ” man” who degrades women is not a man and can be disregarded and dismissed.

  3. Hal Austin November 18, 2016 at 3:31 am

    If the issue is about Mr McDowall, what has this to do with customs and immigration? The reality is that the unions have failed their members. They have a one-dimensional approach to industrial relations – pay up or we go on strike.
    At a time when the nation is crying out for new ideas and their members need proper protection, the unions are devoid of new approaches.
    Public sector unions should be concerned about reform of the civil service; of in-work training; the introduction of technology right across government; reform of the pension system; looking after pensioners and deferred members; providing services to members, including financial advice, long term care, legal advice, health advice, insurance services, etc.
    Unions need to broaden and improve their offerings to members, other than just take money from them and spend it as they like.
    Members also have to make greater demands on their unions and pressure them in to stepping up to the new trade unionism bar.
    The media also have to raise consciousness by publishing more news and features about trade unionism in north America, Europe, Australia, bringing new ideas and policy proposals to readers.
    Swilling about in a pit of the same redundant ideas ad trivialities, including trying to protect an official in a case without merit is bad trade unionism.

  4. Francis November 18, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Carson Cadogan your comments are disgraceful.
    That is a remark we would expect from Donald Trump!!
    Apologize now!!!

  5. The Negrocrat November 18, 2016 at 8:11 am

    Carson, no wonder the women told her outside man that your hands are small like Donald Trumps’.

  6. Mac November 18, 2016 at 8:52 am

    “If the new approach to industrial relations in Barbados dictates that you institute industrial action and then talk rather than the other way around, we may have to go back to the drawing board to see whether the mechanisms we have in place for the management of our industrial relations are suited to this new culture,”
    Serious statement.

  7. Alex Alleyne November 18, 2016 at 8:52 am

    THATCHER & REAGAN took care of the UNIONS who think that they were untouchable. and would bring the Government down.

  8. Carson C Cadogan November 18, 2016 at 12:52 pm

    The NUPW has an inflated sense of its own importance.

    The upper class in the NUPW is made up of people who have never done well in their lives.

    They are being misled by Caswell franklyn, just let that sink in and you will see how stupid they are.

  9. Carson C Cadogan November 18, 2016 at 1:31 pm

    This woman looks like Death warmed over. And she is part of the NUPW upper class?

    The NUPW is really scrapping the bottom of the barrel!!!!!!

  10. Loretta Griffith November 18, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    There is no way the NUPW could threaten Prime Ministers Barrow, Adams, Sandiford or Arthur and get away with it. Bullies should be treated like who or what they are. No kid gloves.
    I am almost seventy years old and I cannot remember Unions issuing ultimatums to any of those prime ministers. They would have been shot down ( I don’t mean literally) or put in their place by letting them know who is in charge. You fight fire with fire. Respect due!
    We must all remember what goes around comes around. Today for me and tomorrow for you.
    All those persons who are out there fanning the flames of discord and discontent I hope when it backfires we brace ourselves for the outcome.
    My sympathy goes out to the weak among us who will have to bear the brunt of all these increase cost. Mind you, we all will
    suffer but some will suffer more than others.

    • Carson C Cadogan November 18, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      When the Royal Barbados Police Force threatened industrial action against the Owen Arthur Administration, Owen allowed them to know that he would not be sitting down with anyone under duress to discuss anything.

      And further more he accused the Police of trying to undermine his Govt. for he saw it as it should be seen a bareface attempt by the Police to sabotage his regime and he was not standing for it.

      In quick time the Police backed down.

    • Coralita November 18, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      I told someone the same thing earlier. The business people are going to lose by this go-slow and they are not going to absorb that lost. Consumers are going to have to pay for that by an increase price on goods. Yes the UNION MEMBERS will be affected as well and for what, Akani McDowall???

      Watch and see!!!

  11. Sherlock Holmes. November 18, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    Nobody with a face like that could threaten me and get away with it, i mean it is scary, but i would put the whole lot of them in their place, bunch of clowns.

  12. Maria November 19, 2016 at 11:15 am

    Why not stick to issues and stop the name calling. Are we in Kindergarten or what?


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