Out of line

“I don’t see where Walcott is; he is flying

past his nest.”

This response is from general secretary of

the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU),

Sir Roy Trotman, to claims from the

executive director of the Barbados Employers

Confederation (BEC), Tony Walcott.

Walcott, in a statement earlier this week,

described recent consultations involving

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and other

key ministers in his administration with top

representatives of the National Union of Public

Workers [NUPW] and the BWU, focused on

the Government’s plan to send home over

3,000 public sector employees by the end of

the first quarter of this year as “a major threat

to the structure and future functioning of the

Social Partnership mechanism”.

Walcott further noted that meetings of

“arbitrarily selected business organizations

with the political leadership” could not be considered as

meetings with the total Barbados private sector.

Sir Roy told reporters yesterday that he was intrigued

by the BEC head’s comments to the effect that they should

have been at the meeting, since the talks held between the

unions and the Government officials was not a meeting

of a Social Partnership.

“It was a meeting of the employer, in this case being

the Government, and the representatives of the workers

themselves from the two trade unions [the BWU and the

NUPW]. If there were other trade unionists that made

that statement, I could listen to them and I think I could

hear them. I think they would understand that, in the same

way that they are desirous of being present; that when Mr

Clarke spoke to me and we agreed, that we as BWU had

a meeting and he had one, that we would meet together

that we were concerned because our two unions were the

unions which are going to be hit by this.

“It is already known that teachers are not going to be

hit, prison officers are not going to be hit, police are not

going to be hit, nurses are not going to get hit, so the two

unions and the membership of the two unions that are the

only unions involved in this were the ones that were able to

meet,” Sir Roy said, explaining that if someone else wanted

to get involved that was not a problem.

“ . . . But then the big question is how does the

Employer’s Confederation fit into an exercise where

another employer is discussing reducing his staff with the

trade union movement? If tomorrow we have a meeting

that involves Dacosta’s, or that involves, you name it, Banks

. . . is the BEC saying that they should be involved when the

BWU sits down with the management of Banks Breweries?”

the union boss questioned.

Meantime, Sir Roy has again issued a warning that the

plan by Government to retrench over 3,000 civil servants

by month-end will have equally devastating repercussions

within the island’s private sector. He said, taking that into

account, he made the recommendation that a mechanism

similar to what was employed back in 1991, be considered.

“[T]ry to get a body of people who are interested,

who have Barbadian roots, who are going to demonstrate

that they are ready to look at different levels to do what

we did in 1991. When we did that there was no criticism

about it [when we established the Foreign Exchange

Committee]. That committee worked very well chaired by

Sir Maurice King and with the late Sir John Stanley Goddard

and myself as co-chairs.

“Nobody lamented that that was being done and it was

not seen as cutting across the intentions of anybody else to

help. [But] very often, when people hear suggestions coming

from people they don’t like they will find all kinds of ways

to poo paw it,” Sir Roy stated.

He said what was needed now were ways to

resuscitate the economy, and everyone needed to

concentrate on immediate and medium term efforts, before

looking longer term.

“Any effort we can make in that direction to have people

earn and have them take care of their families is an effort

that we must support.

“That is why we called for it. The Government says it

is interested in doing it. Now, if there are people who feel

they want to be involved, talk to the Government,”

he added. (RG)

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