Sir Charles hits back at BWU and striking Apes Hill workers

An angry, emotional and upset Sir Charles “COW” Williams has fired back at the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), threatening to shut down his Apes Hill golf course and luxury villas facility and send home all the workers.

A nasty row has developed between Apes Hill and the BWU over the company’s refusal to recognize the union as the workers’ representative and a lengthy delay in the resumption of talks over pay and conditions of employment.

The union issued a highly charged statement yesterday, accusing the Apes Hill management of industrial terrorism and of subjecting the staff to mental and economic slavery.

Sir Charles today unleashed his fury on the union and the employees in an equally fiery interview with Barbados TODAY during which he made reference to workers rising from slavery and described some workers as ingrates and laggards. He also said that he was hurt by the entire episode.

“Leh me tell you something. I ready to shut it down and send home all 400 people that working up there. Ready. It is a pain on me. It is a pain,” an emotional Sir Charles said, breaking his silence on the industrial dispute.

The construction and real estate mogul also rubbished the union’s claims of racism and classism, pointing to the broad section of people who participate in events at the upscale facility.    

“The union is wrong. Our organization at Apes Hill is definitely not racist. Leh me tell you something. Go up there any time we
have a tournament and see the proportion
of different races up there . . . Chinese,
Indian, Blacks, Whites, all. We don’t have a ban on anybody.”

The prominent business executive however defended the company’s approach to dealing with employees who he suggested avoided work and spent their time idly. He told Barbados TODAY he was not about to allow them to jeopardize the high net worth clients who invested in multi-million dollar villas at Apes Hill.

Sir Charles “COW” Williams

“What I am not going to do is let people come and sit down and loaf around the place where . . . people that pay six and eight million to build a house and see loafers sitting down around the place,” the 83-year-old Sir Charles said.  The prominent businessman, who said he had invested his personal finances in the sprawling Apes Hill project to save it from collapsing, was furious at what he suggested was little gratitude shown by some of the workers.

“We have given them the opportunity to go through apprenticeship, to improve their position in life,” he insisted.

Against the backdrop of a three-day strike by more than 40 placard-bearing maintenance workers who protested the delay in the resumption of talks, Sir Charles stated that the company met with the workers under a month ago to bring them up to date on the developments, “to bring them in line with the jobs they did”.

And he argued that the industrial action was unnecessary because the management asked the employees for time to put the promised salary increases in writing for the various categories of workers.

“There are six to ten different categories [and we told them] it would take a little time and we would let them know [the availability of the documented increases] accordingly. And you know what they did? [They] sat down on the site and objected to the people that were playing [golf] that pay, to pay them. So we asked them to leave the site. That’s all,” contended Sir Charles, executive chairman of CO Williams Construction.

Amid periodic outbursts of anger, he spoke of the approximately 130 permanent and the “many more” temporary jobs that the business had created, and complained that “detractors” were trying to kill the project. The construction executive also expressed regret he had developed the facility.

“Today is six years Apes Hill open. I should never have done it. I should have left it in a dairy farm employing eight people  . . . that’s what I should have done. I would not have this worry this morning,” he lamented.

Sir Charles said the workers had done so well that the company built an additional car park for those who had gone to work there.

“We have promoted people from labourers to supervisors in our business. You work, you prove yourself and you get promoted.  Leh me tell you something, when they came to work, they barely had clothes . . .,” emphasized the real estate mogul.


Sir Charles “COW” Williams

48 Responses to Ungrateful!

  1. Cora Woodhead
    Cora Woodhead December 10, 2015 at 3:54 am

    From that interview I absolutely believe the Trade Union. People of Barbados you should be supporting these workers.

  2. Michele Antoinette
    Michele Antoinette December 10, 2015 at 3:59 am

    Is this a “Sir” talking about his “slaves” like this? For this reason Apes Hill want shutting down! Don’t ease up on this “Massa”. Come out things, let us really hear how you feel Sir Cow!!

    • Donild Trimp December 10, 2015 at 1:59 pm

      Michele, what do you mean by don’t ease up? If you are running a multi million dollar business would you stand idly by and allow your workers to loaf around and draw money by false pretenses?

      This entitlement mentality among Barbadian workers exist all over. Cow should fire all of them and let them go and work for someone else who will put up with their lazy asses.

      My advice to Mr. Williams is to hire people who want to work and get rid of those lazy people who poison the workplace.

  3. Christopher Donawa
    Christopher Donawa December 10, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Words said in anger… COW will (should) regret the tone and content…

  4. ch December 10, 2015 at 4:41 am

    I understand Sir Charles’ passion. He is a man who worked hard in this country to develop his business and also, our economy.
    I can honestly say that I have heard only good things about him from many of his employees, over the years. I also read that those on strike are a small fraction of his staff. That says a lot.
    I’m sure that there are excellent workers at Apes Hill who deserve their review and upgrade- and respect- and there needs to be maturity and restraint in negotiations. But, in our current society , there are also some persons who want a paycheck and benefits without actually working and they need to stop hiding behind the union.

  5. Divadialect December 10, 2015 at 6:23 am

    Indeed Christopher! Because this comes off as extremely condescending and worse.

    Cow claims that the cross section of people who attend functions at Apes Hill shows there’s no -isms at his business. Yet they imported an Englishman to head Apes Hill. As if a golf or polo club is new in Barbados. As if we haven’t been turning out countless tourism management graduates at associates, bachelor’s and master’s level.

    I’d be interested to see if the management levels of his industries still look as they did about a decade back when he published an anniversary advertorial and David Commisiong and others called him on it.

    There is no need for him to fear the union nor get into this unseemly verbal battle on the very day they are actually going into negotiation. I worked at a company that is very highly unionized and there was plenty of room to get rid of lazy or underperforming workers.

    • David December 10, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      I have been in and around the golf industry my entire life and I would like to ask you a simple question. Who in Barbados has the golf/polo knowledge along with master level degrees (including their PGA certification) who has experience running a multi billion dollar facility? The answer is no one, thats why he had to hire abroad.

  6. Derwood December 10, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Before I make any comment I would like to hear the taped interview for myself. I’m aware how media houses can take a simple Sentence and restructure it for sensationalism.
    The slavery, ingrates, ungrateful and other descriptive words used here, can lead to a firestorm.

    • Johnb December 10, 2015 at 3:07 pm

      I got to hear the tape too, I’m always on COW side but if he went down the slavery road I might just change my mind.

      • Renz December 11, 2015 at 9:03 am

        But he didn’t mention slavery…the word he used was “Labourers”…they came to work for us as labourers and were given the opportunity to go through a period of apprenticeship. The use of the work slavery makes absolutely no sense in the context of the interview. Listen to the actual interview on youtube. The word he used was “labourers”.

  7. Hardball December 10, 2015 at 7:47 am

    WOW, really!! “They were working . . . they came to work for us as slavery. We have given them the opportunity to go through apprenticeship, to improve their position in life,”
    “when they came to work, they barely had clothes . . .,”

    Those were some poor choice of words, slavery finish over 400 years ago Charley. Actually I should say the slavery with chains.
    But there is something called Economic Slavery, and it seems that’s what is going on at Apes Hill.

  8. Sue Donym December 10, 2015 at 7:49 am

    This is ugly!
    Do both sides really want to damage relations to the point where they can never be comfortable working together? Nothing positive is going to come of references to terrorism and slavery.

    Send in new spokespersons and be prepared to listen to each other. Only the most small-minded would want this to fester.

  9. Hardball December 10, 2015 at 7:50 am

    @ Christopher Donawa
    I don’t think he will regret anything, he is the bajan Donald Trump. They all think they are untouchable.
    Talking about people come to work for us as slavery (i thnk he really menat as slaves).

  10. RS December 10, 2015 at 7:51 am

    Slavery.. barely had clothes…..seriously Charles, you should think before speaking…

    • Candi December 10, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      In anger unkind words are said.

  11. Carl Lavine December 10, 2015 at 8:23 am

    Let me tell the world something, Mr Williams didn’t get into business to develop no country, he saw an opportunity to move up in financial status in this Barbados first, the development came by the way, that was par for the course, try to remember what happen when the central bank was set up in this island in the early 1970s, there was a mass running of persons from this country who look just like him, at that time he was a no body when the one that taught that they were WHITE were bailing off the ship, only to find out that when they got to Australia and New Zealand, it was then that they found out that they were not WHITE, that action tells me that these people of that color, do not have the best interest of this country at heart, I heard this same Mr. Williams on his mid day calling program advocating that he don’t know why the government is worrying their head about agriculture for, that the government should DEVELOP THE WHOLE COUNTRY and import the food, that type of advise is of a person that have the country’s best interest at heart, may God help us if which ever government would take that good advise from this goodly gentleman.

  12. The Phanton December 10, 2015 at 8:40 am

    I think he was asking a question, not making a statement, but he is a nasty man indeed.

  13. Clear Head December 10, 2015 at 8:58 am

    He always says what he means. There is not mistake. The true person always come out.

  14. e. jerome davis December 10, 2015 at 9:01 am

    My only interest in this is the ‘woman that struck the car’. Ican’t wait to see the outcome of that.

  15. Frank White December 10, 2015 at 9:09 am

    These Caucasians (white people) can say anything about Black people in Barbados and get away with it because some Black man or woman will jump to their defense and say how wonderful and good of a people they are. Well they are not and his remarks clearly says that. He doesn’t care who he upsets because the elected ministers have his back and i can bet you that none of them would never speak against his comments and that’s why we as a people should boycott all his businesses and send a clear message to him and all the others like him.

  16. Diggins December 10, 2015 at 9:32 am

    Why rich ppl always think that poor ppl got to wait on them to decide for them ,, he had an offer like he said just under a month,, what taking so long ,,,so ppl sitting down on job so what ,,make a decision stop wasting ppl time ,, u making one in afew hrs to shut down the place why a month for the other

  17. J. Payne December 10, 2015 at 9:36 am

    It sounds like from this article the union is who bring up slave talk first. Some Barbadians always want to bring up slavery and yet they remain quiet about people who really are slaves today all around the world.

  18. Curtisblow December 10, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Slavery and racism never finished ,the two were merely given face-lifts. ..anytime you want to know how someone else truly sees you get them angry and listen

  19. jrsmith December 10, 2015 at 10:26 am

    Bajans who is really concern, about the way our country, is been manage/govern, must give some serious thought, as to why , bajans as trade unionist , cannot have dialogue, cannot have proper consultations to any matters ,which could be brought to peaceful conclusion. we seems to be back at the 50 year starting pole , slavery, racism, derogatory lines exposed in the media.

    I don’t know how bajans feel about this matter, but this is serious. this matter needs government intervention, you cannot tell me our political government , who would have seen heard the news, is allowing this matter to get out of hand, while they sit on they hands, who the hell is concern ,of what happens to Barbados. sad, sad. we are becoming so tin pot.

  20. Tony December 10, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Ya’ll is something else. He Opened Ape Hill to make more money, but that has nothing to do with his employees. If your job pays $10 and I make $10`000 from it, that has nothing to do with it as long as you are paid what you should get.
    De man (C.O.W.) simply said that they needed more time to get things in order. He NEVER said NO.
    I was never told anything bad about that man or the company, even from people I know that was fired, so that has to say something about the way he deals with his staff.
    If I was him I would feel the same way, betrayed. I would let them go and get new workers. People out there want wuk.

  21. Alex Alleyne December 10, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Its as simple as “too much power for one man in such a small Country”.

  22. Adrian Hinds December 10, 2015 at 11:15 am

    I want to hear the Unions response to what the Article says is Cow’s understanding of the issue.

  23. Mark Bowman December 10, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Power to the people. It is time for Bajans to climb out from the shadow of COW and determine their own future. COW is living in the past.

  24. Winfield clarke December 10, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    Sir cow palace stop using the word SLAVE they are your employees, the plantation days are over

  25. Kevin December 10, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Wrong choice of words from BOTH the Union and COW. But even though Cow came out of the poor whites, who were bought to this isle for slave labour, he will feel the most heat for his statements because of his colour. He should of just said he gave unemployed persons jobs and now their lives are greatly improved. And the Union need to be more careful with their accusations and words as well.

  26. Dawn December 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Racism is alive and well in BIM. He brought them out of slavery, and they didn’t have any clothes… REALLY. At 80 something yrs old, he should know better than to speak this way because he has money. SMH.. This is what white people in BIM think of blacks.

    • Ann Harding December 21, 2015 at 4:52 am

      Hate-talk is illegal in many countries.

  27. Andrew Mayers December 10, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    I think that Sir Charles should be stipped of his knighhood and his honary doctorate for such heated remarks to Black workers…..It is surely not acceptable…

    That situation does not warrant that response…He is surely expressing what is on his mind…..It is insulting to all Black people of African decent. Slavery in itself is painful despite being 400 years ago

    I hope that that UWI and the Government and people of Barbados take firm action against Charles O, Williams immediately

  28. jrsmith December 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    @Andrew,M, hail, hail, good shot, nothing would be said or done to him, as for the government ,which, or what government , he is a them. Think of 50 years ago, since then and now. see where we are at. as like black America, holding hands and singing ,we shall over some day. overcome what ii don’t know.

  29. Jones December 10, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    So he’s calling out lazy people..that’s all I see .and leh me tell you, ALOT of Bajan lazy ! Below par in most countries

  30. Simba December 10, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    Charles obviousy does not understand racism or he playing he does not. The little things he calling to show no racism says very little to nothing. This smells of the old colonial mentality that somehow slavery was a god send for Africans. COW has to know all life is valuable and not because someone spend millions on a place they are worth more that a man renting at $100 a week. The issue here is the workers rights and how they feel. I just sorry Black people did not have the balls to pack up and leave but as we know most of us remain wage slaves. he threatening to send home 400. I wish the 400 would leave him and his own to do their work and serve the millionaires. We as a people need to get it together

  31. 3rdsun December 10, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Mr Williams is in business to make the most profit and pay as little as possible. Some may call it slavery, he calls it business. That land was dead as a dairy farm when he sold his PHD shares and announced he “done wid dat”. When he sent home the workers from his construction firm, nobody dared say anything even though government was advocating restraint to employers. Who he really foolin doh.

  32. Gloria Mendes December 10, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    Williams industries have provided employment to many people and certainly improved their lot in life by steadys alaries and profit sharing in williams industries. Don’t let a few who don’t want to work drag down the many as an employer I see it daily many working hard some doing as little as possible. And they are the ones who keep the most noise . It is unfortuate that tempers have flared and harsh words spoken hopefully there can be cool heads to resolve this issue as I do feel that the Williams’s companies are an asset to Barbados

  33. Djinn December 11, 2015 at 4:37 am

    “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his [socio-political, economic] ‘inferiors’ not his equals…”

  34. 100%black December 11, 2015 at 6:02 am

    Fire the lazy ones… But calling out the race card? They came to work for u in slavery? They barely had clothes? How u know u went in their wardrobe? I can see this race thing escalating in Barbados…its a pity Cow I always thought u and your brother loved black women…

  35. John Moore December 11, 2015 at 9:17 am

    Sir Charles has been allowed for a long time to take Barbados and Barbadians for granted in what I see as our feudal society. He gets large amounts of economic welfare from the Barbados government every year regardless of which party is in power. He white-mails them all the time with boasts that he employs all these workers and he expects subservience from them. In this day and age.

  36. Concerned Bajan December 11, 2015 at 11:01 am

    IRRESPONSIBLE REPORTING. I cannot stress this enough. the word he used was LABOURERS and NOT SLAVERY. How can the Barbadian public have a constructive and effective conversation about the issues at hand when everyone is distracted by something that he didn’t even say?

  37. Winfield clarke December 11, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Sir cow palace stop using the word SLAVE there are your employees, the plantation days are over

  38. Israel Mallett December 11, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    It is a burning SHAME that some Barbadians have not even bothered to actually listen to the recording and realise that Sir Charles Williams, did not even say the word slavery at least once in the recording, out of which he was supposedly “quoted.” The word he said was labourers. Listen carefully and fact check before you get your ire up. You’d be dreadfully embarrassed once you realise that you are wrong. I don’t know him personally, but based on the recent firestorm about his alleged comments, which by the way are baseless, this article needs a retraction and public apology written by Emmanuel Joseph. I will probably hold some licks for this, but there is a bit of reverse racism going on here, or should I just call it jealousy; he’s white, he has money and people are waiting for the loose brick so they could say, “I knew he was so all along.” Even if that loose brick is not actually true, people took it, run with it and didn’t look back to see that it didn’t even belong in the wall they took it from to start with.

  39. Douglas Leopold Phillips December 12, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    I had nuff respect fuh Cow, but like I have to change my mind now.

  40. Angela Fergusson December 15, 2015 at 8:41 am

    Please, let us face the truth! Bad apples are everywhere, when they are approached, and reminded to work for their honest day’s pay, much disruption, and chaos can happen. “Peter pays for Paul and Paul pays for all.”
    I hope common sense will prevail allowing a mutual and pleasing situation for Business and Workers to continue. After all, people need to work and Businesses need to survive.

  41. Ann Harding December 21, 2015 at 5:08 am

    Oppression of the oppressed – not very noble.


    Many are hanging on to any job, regardless of how they are exploited, often through lack of education limiting their opportunities, imagined and real. Those who have worked since early teens or even younger just to feed themselves missed out on the education that others more recently enjoyed. Although the government claims 99% of Barbadians can read and write, local observations witness otherwise.

    Any business owner who does not respect their workforce deserves to lose them. Unfortunately, in this economic environment COW can simply hire more, for even less.

  42. Fidel January 9, 2016 at 1:05 am

    He never used the word slave or slavery!!!!!!!


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