Unions under attack, says Comissiong

Social activist David Comissiong is accusing two of the three sectors of the Social Partnership – Government and the private sector – of engaging in “an open conspiracy” against the trade union movement.

And, Comissiong charged, the plot also involved other “collaborators” who use coded language such as “privatization”, “down-sizing of the public sector”, “retrenchment of public workers” and “pain” in their attacks on the labour movement and workers.

“At this very moment, the social and economic elite of Barbados – the big private sector business interests – along with their collaborators and fellow travellers in the Freundel Stuart administration, and to some extent in both major parties, are gearing up for a fearsome assault on the public sector workers of our nation and on the jobs that they depend upon for their livelihood,” Comissiong said in a press release.

It was not immediately clear what prompted the attorney-at-law and political activist to issue the release.

However, the island’s largest public sector union, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) has come in recently for criticism by senior Government operatives for the “militancy” of its leaders.

For example, it was on March 26 that Minister of Education Ronald Jones and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport Irene Sandiford-Garner had gone on the offensive against the NUPW top officials, suggesting they were in bed with the Mia Mottley-led Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP).

Without calling the NUPW by name, Jones told a branch meeting of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) at the Alleyne School in Belleplaine, St Andrew that trade union leaders were “holding the hands of the political leader and marching up and down”, a clear reference to participation of members of the NUPW’s top brass in the recent Opposition-sponsored march against the Stuart administration’s handling of the economy.

In reference to the upcoming NUPW election scheduled for Wednesday, in which President Akanni McDowall is being challenged by Deputy General-Treasurer Roy Greenidge, Jones said: “We know that they meet. Every one of those persons on a particular side is [a] member of the BLP — strong and diabolical supporters of the BLP. . . so they are running as a team. They could as well call themselves Team BLP.”

His position was strongly supported by Sandiford-Garner, who called on the NUPW to “leave politics out of trade unionism.

“Your union leaders must not come to you as politicians. Leave the politics out of trade unionism, leave it out!” Sandiford-Garner advised.

In addition, last Friday, former union president Walter Maloney, who has been linked in the past to the DLP, suggested the NUPW had lost its way under McDowall’s leadership, and had destroyed in one fell swoop the mutual respect between the trade union and Government.

“I am really not happy. I have heard some commentators say that the union has become more militant but it seems as though they do not know the definition of militancy. If militancy is everyday you walk around Broad Street chanting and at the end of that there is nothing tangible to show for it, then I think that is misplaced militancy,” Maloney told the DLP lunchtime lecture.

However, Comissiong believes the leaders of all the trade unions are under attack and in for a “monumental battle and will need all the support and solidarity they can get”.

He acknowledged that the economy is in crisis, but felt Government should not treat the unions as enemies.

The NUPW has demanded a 23 per cent pay rise of public workers – a figure which has been roundly criticized by many in the administration, while the Barbados Workers Union is demanding a 15 per cent increase.

Also last week, the private sector warned it could no longer afford to maintain jobs out of sheer patriotism.

Though not explicitly stating that layoffs were on the horizon, President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Eddy Abed told a BCCI business luncheon at the Hilton Barbados Resort that as a result of the “restraint and maturity exhibited by the private sector” the country had been able to maintain employment at well over 100,000 people.

He also said the sector had chosen to put social considerations above the bottom line for a protracted period, to its own detriment, but that it could not be business as usual.


14 Responses to Unions under attack, says Comissiong

  1. Greengiant April 4, 2017 at 1:29 am

    Yes David, the trade union movement is very much under attack from operatives of both leading parties, and operatives of BCCI members as well.

    We can also say that the economic well being of the masses, and the foreign exchange improvement of the country is under attack by some of you. This type of behaviour never existed during the fourteen years under the BLP, and they too did projects while bypassing the same red tape. Certainly some of commisions under the watch of your comrades had access to significant funding by current availibility, and I certainly don’t wish to believe this is a factor motivating your effort. I notice however you never approached the high court for review during those years. Some people seem to be more resistant to Mark Maloney, than realising the economic benefits for the economy he brings. Economic development has no colour.

    I must also ask. Why have you not spoken openly to young Akanni McDowall, telling him that any advisor, or executive member who encourages or supports his 23% salary increase request is not on his team. If you want the status of an elder statesman then you act with frankness, integrity, impartiality, and transperancy. Why would some of you sit idly by, or chasing shadows while the youth of this country destroy the reputation of the NUPW?

    It’s time you who behave like the political activists of the past, get more focussed, agitate for quality representatives, enter the election with 30 candidates and become a force of recognition. Otherwise noone will take you any attention, and your party will die with you. Ask brother Bobby, did the People’s Presure Movement not die with Sealy?

    • Jennifer April 4, 2017 at 7:03 am

      @Green Giant – While I agree with you on your stance. I would advise you that the past is very much a big influence on the present and it is wise Not to ignore it. Economic development SHOULD not have a color. But it does have a color. Look very carefully and slowly.

      • Jennifer April 4, 2017 at 7:06 am

        This is why the dogs keep stemming at the same spot in the yard.

    • hcalndre April 4, 2017 at 7:13 am

      @Greengiant: I uses Greengiant brand vegetables and not the expired ones for sure, if you were true to yourself you would not even mention about the Union affiliation with the BLP., whether it is so or not. It is clear to see that all the past Union reps. were operatives and members of the DLP. down to the Walter Maloney and none of you can`t deny that, it seems that if you`re not lying in bed with this party, you are unpatriotic. They are some Civil Servants that are temps for almost 12 years and that Mc. Dowall should be fighting for their status to to be upgraded, did Walter Maloney and his government knew of that? Mc. Dowall is only there 2 years. If you`all become permanent and this party retain the majority you`re still going be the first to go because of your seniority, you only just became permanent. This party is going to play the game of niceness but should they get the government again, the crapo going to smoke all ya pipe.

  2. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall April 4, 2017 at 3:44 am

    That’s why government workers need to vote for McDowell, He’s not a sell out , he’s a representative for your rights. The first time in 15yrs they are getting representation.

  3. jrsmith April 4, 2017 at 4:44 am

    David behaviour is so fake , he comes out when it suits his ego,,
    Trade unions must control themselves not as management but as leaders who is in control …
    You trust no one more so do not play around with politicians , they are morally bank rupt and very untrustworthy, also the major problem with unions in barbados is party political……..

    Trade union members themselves cannot be trusted , they are always ready to down tools to protect the party , they dont have a unity trade union bone in them…thats why its hard work for the union leaders…….easy for the politicians , the people the losers …

  4. foxmouth April 4, 2017 at 6:06 am

    How can one try to block employment by opposing the construction of Hyatt but on the other hand would like people to think that he has workers at heart. stupse

  5. Sisleen Greene April 4, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Would you believe that just a short while ago, Walter Maloney was telling Public Employees not to vote for Akanni because he was a Dem. Now all of a sudden because he is prepared to stand up for his workers he is a Bee.Well thank God cause all the non attach Unionists (Alleyne, Maloney, Clarke, Goddard, Greenidge, and team Solidarity all now have ended up in the Dems bed.)Check the campaign colours of Team Solidarity, can’t even disguise their allegiance.
    Well let me tell all Public Employees, vote for the team that is standing up for you, not the team whose intention it is to see what positions they can secure for themselves by being the ruling Government stool pigeons.
    When that fraud Branch-Babb call or send you names of team solidarity put her in her place, the trash can.

  6. Harry April 4, 2017 at 6:56 am

    It is a pity that the Unions in the Country have allowed themselves to be used as pawns by both political parties, all it took was a couple of duty free cars and a knighthood.

  7. Jennifer April 4, 2017 at 6:58 am

    @jrsmith – I can see about the ego thing. Many people suffer from this syndrome. What we really need in the unions are leaders (teams) who are loyal to their people and subscribers. Leaders with big large BALL$ without political influence or the ability to be PAID or PENETRATED. That will be like trying to find that needle in the proverbial haystack. Trade unions have been known for a long time for being tainted and selling workers out for wine and rum, thereby becoming a COG IN THE WHEEL to its workers and “race” as a whole. We are already drowning in the “race” horse syndrome blanketed by poor tainted education, religion, poor economic and financial status etc. Its like having your ultimate house negro/s. This type of vague article SAYS nothing much. Who are these businesses in the private sector and government that is engaged in the OC???? So if the government is in an OC that should be no surprise to anyone and exposed. But we the public deserve evidence. Its like nothing was learn from the plantation. Mind you all the while that fork tongue beast keeps slithering away. But then again as they say rat tongue sell he head.

  8. seagul April 4, 2017 at 9:43 am

    It’s all about that Wu tang song–C.R.E.A.M. Cash rules everything around me. It’s the dollar bill yo…We’ve got a hard road to travel and a ruff way to go….but we can’t give up. Without unity….we need Malcolm.

  9. jrsmith April 4, 2017 at 10:28 am

    @, jennifer , hail, hail, always on the button you got to lose sometime….one day.. Seagul a good shot , but the people dont need him he is the one to pull it up, get it together show he has the balls to be a strong person , he needs to be the challenge the politicians is scared of , we dont see that in barbados thats why the politicians answers to no one……………………………………

    This is the wrong time for this guy , but this is show time for him as well he must hold it together, this is where he scores his sixes..
    ……………………………………Let me say this a general election is around the corner and trade unionist again is on the party trail, dont expect anything sympathy from them , just be in control..

  10. Alex Alleyne April 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    IF YOU WAITING FOR A “PICK” UNDER MIA , YOU GOT ANOTHER THING COMING. You can run ya mout all yah want.

  11. Frank White April 4, 2017 at 10:03 pm

    Brother Comissiong is always on point… He is not in opposition of the Hyatt being built as it is going to provide short and long term employment for Barbadians and foreigners rather he is against the manner on how the lack of due process was not carried out but yet approval was given… You all Barbadians must understand that this same contractor defy all laws rules and regulations set out by the town planning department so what makes you feel that he is going to follow any now… It’s not about him wanting a pick in Mia’s cabinet, it’s standing up for what is just, and this brother is doing that, 100% supportive of brother Comissiong…


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