Low turnout

NUPW: Employers used intimidation to prevent workers from joining protest

Traffic came to a temporary halt and workers came out of their offices to observe, while others shouted their support from the sidelines as the leadership of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) led around 125 people in a march through Bridgetown this morning.

And while she was “pleased” with the turnout, the NUPW boss Roslyn Smith charged that others who wanted to come out stayed away because some employers, and work colleagues, used intimidation tactics.

The fact that the demonstrations represented a minute fraction of the close to 3,000 workers who were sent home by Government last year did not appear to dampen the spirits of those in attendance.

Scores of workers took part in the march.
Scores of workers took part in the march.

Throughout the estimated 90-minute march that began and ended at Queen’s Park, the placard-bearing demonstrators sang uplifting songs, including We Shall Overcome.

They also loudly called for the resignation of Government ministers, including Minister of Environment Dr Denis Lowe.

“Lowe must go! Lowe must go!” they chanted, paying no heed to intermittent rainfall.

The demonstration, watched closely by several police officers, was staged to hammer home frustration over the Government’s failure to address outstanding matters relating to dismissed workers at the National Conservation Commission (NCC) and the inability of the Employment Rights Tribunal to begin hearings nine months after the retrenchment.

Smith sent a message to those who had threatened other workers who wanted to join the march, that their actions would not be taken lightly.

Roslyn Smith
Roslyn Smith

“Those persons who wanted to be here [but] who were threatened by other coworkers or management . . . we will address that when the situation comes because if anyone is being victimized they will feel the real might of the NUPW,” she said at the end of the march, prompting loud cheers.

“Persons have a right to march, to protest, and if the Government is doing what is right we would not have to be here in the first place.”

Smith vowed that the NUPW would neither be retreating nor be intimidated by anyone.

While rallying workers to “stand up and fight for what is right”, she said the union also had its eyes on some other matters.

“There are a number of issues in the public service outside of this issue here with the NCC workers and the Beautify Barbados workers. There is a dire need for appointment of workers in the public service and we are not going to allow the Government to allow people to go out of the service without their dues in terms of appointments,” the top union official declared.

“We are looking to get those young workers who have been in there for five and 10 years appointed. If you want this economy to turn around, you have to empower persons to spend. Persons are not going to spend when they are temporary because the lending agencies are not going to acknowledge them. And if we want to see real growth, start here with these workers.”

Meantime, union president Walter Maloney said today’s march showed that solidarity was still alive and well in Barbados.

“Any injustice to a worker is certainly an injustice to all workers and this march this morning showed that once you touch me, then you touch you and you touch everyone of us,” he said, insisting that the march had achieved the desired results.

“I’m certain that the powers that be would have listened. They would have seen on television and in the newspaper, they would have heard the chants from the brothers and sisters . . . I certainly think that persons will listen.”

Concerned that more than half of the workers who were laid off by Government last year were females, the public relations officer of the Barbados Labour Party’s League of Women marched in solidarity with the NUPW.

“We are a country that has mainly single-headed households so when you send the women home, you put the family out of a place to live,” Marsha Hinds-Layne told Barbados TODAY.

“We think that this issue is very important socially from that point of view and it pains us that somebody is not paying more attention to the social issues that are coming out of this.”

Hinds-Layne said she was “very concerned” with the type of support being given to single-parent households, warning that “if the children and the family are destabilized by that, that also destabilizes Barbados.”

“At the end of the day it’s one thing for the economy of a country to fail and another thing for that failure to result in social instability, because money will fix economic problems but when you get social fall out sometimes that takes 10, 20, 30 years to come back from,” she added.


11 Responses to Low turnout

  1. Tony Webster January 14, 2015 at 6:43 am

    One more time: our unions , (both here and elsewhere in the caribbean) if they are to be relevant, to survive, and to genuinely and effectively represent their members’ interests, have to DIVORCE THEMSELVES FROM ALL POLITICAL AFFILIATIONS.
    They will thereby gain independence, dignity, and self-respect…and effectiveness no matter “who in power”. All of these current contortions, pretences, weak-kneed PR efforts, and long-talk ain’t fooling anyone…least of all…their membership…who are now sadder…and much, much wiser!
    Most unfortunately, Caribbean history is replete with examples in each island, where some folks emerge with good intentions, but are tempted by over-weening ambitions and discern a golden path ahead, and garb themselves in union robes. In due course they morph into union gorilliphants, then politicians…and unto great power, glory…and equally great wealth. QED? Or just another Anansi story?

  2. Gregston Griffith
    Gregston Griffith January 14, 2015 at 6:48 am

    a fail march. If I was a leader of this NUPW I would have to resign, with so many people send home and still cant get people mobilised is telling me the people of Barbados have accepted that it not the Goverment fault. So we going to stand home but as for the new union boss i would have take a backward step if plan were not going well and not to have a fail march. Dont tell me people were afraid that is nonsense

    • NAKED DEPARTURE - The Trilogy Series
      NAKED DEPARTURE - The Trilogy Series January 14, 2015 at 7:54 am

      The march didn’t fail, it’s the gutless Bajans that do, over and over and over and over again….

    • Elke Hassell
      Elke Hassell January 14, 2015 at 9:29 am

      I agree – its the continued cowardliness of the Bajans in all aspects that continues to lead to a dead end! Don’t complain then when you are having a tuff time!

  3. Wayne P Hoyte
    Wayne P Hoyte January 14, 2015 at 7:37 am

    a nation of all talks ….. when the chips are down very few back you. In our personal lives we see it. So why would it be different here? you got to know who will stand with and by you.

  4. NAKED DEPARTURE - The Trilogy Series
    NAKED DEPARTURE - The Trilogy Series January 14, 2015 at 7:53 am

    What did you expect? Bajans walking in the hot sun? getting up from in front of the TV’s? risk fainting because they ate the cheese cutter at the start of the march instead of saving it until they really needed it? risking that somebody may see them and their name get called?….oh, the many excuses that Bajans use so they don’t have to work for the betterment of themselves. Waiting for the white man to save them, whether with heads raised to the sky, or taking their heads out the white man’s as@. In America, we have a special name for black people who behave like that………

  5. Mac10 January 14, 2015 at 9:56 am

    So where were the 3000 people that were laid off fighting for their rights fighting for the future rights of Barbadian workers

  6. Miguel Carlos Jose Humphrey
    Miguel Carlos Jose Humphrey January 14, 2015 at 11:05 am

    A low turn out is better than NO turn out at all, the people have had their day and they have spoken to those who are suppose to listen, weather they do or not is up to them to suffer the consequences.

  7. miche January 14, 2015 at 11:27 am

    When all else fail, all these so called organizers fall back on “Those persons who wanted to be here [but] who were threatened by other coworkers or management .It is time that these unions stop all the lying,and start true representation. they allow themselves to be too politically rather than People aligned,.

  8. seagul January 14, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    There isn’t no power like power of the people for—the power of the people.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *