Assert yourself

Prescod discusses trade union movement

History has shown that the trade union movement worldwide has asserted itself on behalf of the working class in the class struggle between capital and labour.

Parliamentary representative for St Michael East Trevor Prescod made this observation today in the House of Assembly in response to a statement made by a Government spokesman that the “trade union movement in Barbados had draped itself in the Flag Of Barbados”.

MP Trevor Prescod
MP Trevor Prescod

Speaking during the 2014-2015 Estimates Of Revenue And Expenditure debate, Prescod said: “Government has already tied up the evangelical church. Yesterday, I heard a minister saying how grateful he is that the trade union movement is working with the Government. Wherever you go in history, if you go back to the Great Depression, the trade union movement asserted itself and many things the Government would not have done in the USA, the Government was forced to do.

“However, when a trade union retreats and ignores the concerns of the workers under the pretence that they have an interest in the protection of tourism and the national economy, the workers suffer. I have never heard of anything so ridiculous in my entire life.

“Everybody has turned their back on labour and it is because they do not have a perspective. There must be a new democratic socialist programme,” said the parliamentarian.

Stating he would offer an apology to the church, Prescod said there was a new “political evangelism” in the country, where organisations that knew the truth were refusing to accept what he called “genuine analysis with the interest in developing this humanity in a more meaningful way”.

“I have heard trade unionists say, not they are against the dismissals, but they will make sure that the dismissals are done in a gradual manner in order to cushion the impact of the dismissals. What kind of logic is that? I love the trade union movement. I know the history
of the trade union movement. It has to assert itself.

“We had trade unions in the Caribbean like in Grenada where Eric Gairy and I saw how trade unions used the political directorate for their own personal interests.

“I read the speech when the business sector gave Gairy an opportunity to go on radio and speak and he said he was going to pick up the rogues and the vagabonds off the streets and say: ‘Stop it now. Uncle Eric says stop it now.’ So we have all kinds of strange personalities in Caribbean politics,” Prescod said.

The MP, who is also a pan-Africanist, argued that Barbadians had to be familiar with what Sir Grantley Adams did for T.T. Lewis when he, Adams, led a march of thousands through Bridgetown to Queen’s Park in support of his cause.

“When shop steward Giles was dismissed from the Telephone Company because the management did not want to respect him
as a union official, the union called out a general strike and changed the tide favourable to the workers.

“I would like to encourage these persons who are speaking to know themselves. If you read the works of Marcus Garvey, he encouraged Blacks to know themselves,” Prescod told fellow parliamentarians.

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