Unions renew strike threat as Budget talks end in stalemate

After over five hours of talks, no resolution has been reached between Government and this country’s trade unions on contentious matters arising out of last month’s Budget presentation by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler.

In fact, top officials of the union emerged tonight from a meeting at Government Headquarters, chaired by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart and including Sinckler and other key officials, telling reporters that industrial action could still be on the cards, if Government proceeds with implementation of its “harsh” $542 million austerity package –  which is aimed at erasing its $537.6 million deficit.

The unions have been pressing for either some form of coping mechanism for public workers or a full repeal of the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), which is to raised from two per cent to a whopping ten per cent come July 1.

“I am very unhappy. We went into the negotiations with two strong positions  . . . [but] neither of those two positions were given so therefore we are of the opinion that the union should do whatever is necessary to make sure that our objectives are met,” President of the National Union of Public Workers Akanni McDowall told reporters shortly after emerging from the 3 p.m. talks just before 9 p.m.   

While maintaining that such accommodation was immediately necessary, McDowall, who was flanked by General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) Toni Moore, President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union Mary Redman and other union officials, said he was somewhat comforted by the fact that an undertaking was given by Government to resume pay negotiations with the workers’ representatives.

“In all fairness to the minister [Sinckler] and the Prime Minister they tried to give some sort of indication that they would try to expedite salary negotiations and we appreciated that . . . . Nonetheless, there is a saying that goes, ‘while the grass is growing the horse is starving’, so we needed something a little bit more immediate.

“Unfortunately, we were unable to get that and I have to go back to the membership to see what we need to do going forward,” the NUPW top official said.

Asked specifically if this meant industrial, both he and Moore responded in unison, saying, “Whatever is needed.”

Earlier this week, Government announced that the NSRL would not be applied to about 300 items contained in its so called basic basket of goods, but the NUPW and the BWU have both been calling for a repeal of the levy on the grounds that it will only make life harder for their members, who have not benefited from a salary increase in nine years.

However, as recent as today, Sinckler defended his May 30 Budget announcements, including a two per cent tax on foreign exchange transactions – which also takes effect on July 1 – as well as increased levies on petrol and diesel.

Delivering the ruling Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) lunchtime lecture at party headquarters on Friday, the Minister of Finance said he was standing firmly by his May 30th Budget — a position which he repeated tonight, while promising that once the domestic economic situation improves, workers could expect to receive their just deserts.

As for the threat of strike action that continues to hang over Government’s operations, Sinckler said: “I’m not in charge of industrial action. You can ask them [unions] about that, but it would certainly be my hope that no such thing occurs.”

He also confirmed that Government was amenable to re-opening salary negotiations.

And amid concerns expressed by the unions that even though Government’s basket of goods would be NSRL free, the cost of producing the items was still likely to increase, Sinckler said he was committed to protecting the most vulnerable in society.

31 Responses to Unions renew strike threat as Budget talks end in stalemate

  1. Ras June 24, 2017 at 1:06 am

    Wait where is the General Secretary of the NUPW

    Reply
  2. Milli Watt June 24, 2017 at 1:12 am

    i can’t wait till next month come on dynamic duo do something ……….anything I dare yuh!

    Reply
  3. Eureen Gill June 24, 2017 at 6:25 am

    The General Secretary Of the NUPW was at the meeting fighting on the behalf of the workers of Barbados. The General Secretary of the BWU also attended. What the DLP should note. Lots of people in Barbados are very frustrated with the way how things are going. All they need to do. Say to Barbadians..look we are broke..hold tight..Barbadians may understand and hold strain. What will they say to us next year General Elections. The Prime Minister also need to let his voice be heard. Anyway let’s keep on praying that we will come out of this hard economic situation

    Reply
    • Ras June 24, 2017 at 7:05 pm

      So Akanni hijacking the Leadership of NUPW then.

      Reply
  4. Veroniva Boyce
    Veroniva Boyce June 24, 2017 at 6:51 am

    Couldn’t even strike a match. Just refund the worker membership fees do!

    Reply
  5. Holdtightbdos June 24, 2017 at 7:05 am

    So the Minister of Finance left this all important meeting with Governments social partner (Unions) mid stream to go and deliver the DLPs lunchtime lecture. It seems so if the meeting finished after 5 hours. Don’t think the lunchtime lecture started at 3 pm. SMH

    Does the Trade Union believe it is being taken seriously and being respected in looking after the plight of the average man ? What did the lunch time lecture deliver but political rhetoric.. no reassurance to the public whatsoever!!!

    Reply
  6. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn June 24, 2017 at 7:38 am

    If you are going to strike for one day it don’t make no sense striking.

    Reply
  7. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn June 24, 2017 at 7:38 am

    If you are going to strike for one day it don’t make no sense striking.

    Reply
  8. Greengiant June 24, 2017 at 7:39 am

    I said all along the unions should be focused on wages at this time. If the government plans to increase their revenue intake, then the unions should be working out how much of that revenue they can get for the workers in terms of back pay and increases. Taxes pays public service salaries, we all know that so once government’s receivables increase then they can pay public servants more. No need for strike action, prepare for solid negotiations. Of course we will come out, and shinning too. We have done the economic gymnastics already under this same party remember? What we as a people know is that this party has experience driving the ship through deep and treasurous waters. Can the opposition place such experience on their CV?

    I’m not supporting either of them but I’m just examining the political CV of the parties. The B L P knows how to create dept by borrowing to keep the economy floating. The D L P knows how to manage painful economic situations. Now we need a group of politicians who understands building a modern economy, with lower public service employment, higher private sector investment, modernized legislation, modernized manufaturing and agricultural production. We need to feed ourselves, our visitors, reduce energy cost, increase production, lower our national dept to G D P ratio. Now i’m convinced that neither of these two parties has a formula to achieve these needs for our country, so it’s time for them both to go.

    Reply
  9. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn June 24, 2017 at 7:51 am

    You will be just wasting people time. You need hold discussion with the whole country and see if the majority want to strike against this last budget. Before you can strike. Not just because the union want to strike you will strike. And not for one day. You will be wasting time.

    Reply
  10. Joy Waldron
    Joy Waldron June 24, 2017 at 8:02 am

    It’s you going do It or not no threat just do it. 5 hrs waste for what. Just show Dem public stronger than clown performance on a stage

    Reply
  11. jrsmith June 24, 2017 at 8:14 am

    The new union leaders is living in la,la, land,,, they are not challenge the government, they challenging a budget, to win you must say to the government, the positive facts they are avoiding dont like to hear,………………..things as like , why only certain people pay taxes in barbados , if the taxes were collected efficiently , what money would be achieve,…
    And why the government is not making any effort to find the 900 millions dollars missing from the treasury , this should have been a police matter the (Audit General’s ) report which went world wide , they got away with that ,( where was the opposition ).they said nothing……………
    People in barbados must ask themselves the big question , why do they vote …………………………………….

    Reply
  12. Haskell Murray June 24, 2017 at 8:16 am

    If these unions go on strike , the government should decertify
    them and give the government employees a deadline to return to work and those who don’t return to work by the deadline should be fired with immediate effect.
    I my opinion unions have outlive their usefulness and now they want to run companies and governments.
    It was the Arthur government that went and borrowed money from every institution he could find around the world and now the chickens(interest) have come home to roost. So I say to Sinclair
    don’t budge it is better to have a solution made in Barbados that one made in Washington (IMF) which would be more devastating to the average Bajan.

    Reply
  13. H Mcclean June 24, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Didn’t the MOF leave the meeting to go give the DLP lunchtime lecture. DO the Unions feel that they are being treated seriously.. or is it just window. Dressing by the Government

    Reply
  14. The Negrocrat June 24, 2017 at 8:40 am

    H Murray, one of the baddest governments in the Caribbean was taken down when workers took to the streets.
    Do you really think that FROON and his crew can stand up to the workers of Barbados?

    Reply
  15. Saga Boy June 24, 2017 at 9:29 am

    So you strike, people get laid off, people loose houses and cars, union looses membership and find themselves in economic problems and then what. How about talking to government about how you will help to rebuild the country. I am sure the union leaders are well secured financially.

    Reply
  16. Carson C Cadogan June 24, 2017 at 9:38 am

    Barbados Today that is a very nice picture of TWEEDLE DEE(Akanni McDowall) and TWEEDLE DUM( Toni Moore)

    Two union jokers.

    Reply
  17. Saga Boy June 24, 2017 at 9:38 am

    There was a time that the BWU lead the way. Now the BWU is following in the shadow of the NUPW lead by a clown President. I wonder if Sir Roy supports this approach? In Uk employees have not had an increase in over 10 years. The entire world is in trouble.

    Reply
  18. Ali Baba
    Ali Baba June 24, 2017 at 9:43 am

    WANNA JUST FAUCKING AROUND, I BET THE GRAND OLE DUKE OF YORK WAS THERE

    Reply
  19. Ali Baba
    Ali Baba June 24, 2017 at 9:44 am

    THE PEOPLE NEED TO WITH DRAW THE $6.00, MEK WANNA WAKE UP

    Reply
  20. joan Worrell June 24, 2017 at 11:19 am

    All this strike talk is politically motivated. I have no problem with that, if the motivators can tell Barbadians and Civil Servants in particular what are the answers to the discontinuation of printing money to pay the oversized Public Service. What the Unions have to be aware of , is that text book politics and real life politics in Barbados are two different species. Union leaders either don’t know or pretend not to know that in order for candidates to win a seat in Barbados, they make some of the most outrageous promises to constituents, sometime unknown to the Party leaders. This is what turned me off from voting for over 25 years.

    Can you imagine that although things are so bad, candidates in my constituency are still promising young people jobs in School Meals, Urban/Rural Development and as Government security guards? Isn’t this practicing mental trickery and manipulation of the minds of the unsuspecting and underprivileged youngsters? Is it the answer to austerity? Where do the Unions stand when these same candidates are elected. Are they going to continue their strikes or eat humble pie, burying their heads in shame?

    What Barbados needs right now, is some form of coalition Government where no one leader calls all the shots. I know it is a herculean task for any of the third Parties to win an overall majority. However if they offer the public hope without false promises of Government jobs, the electorate will vote for some of them. When Owen Arthur first became Prime Minister, he was able to attract almost all the economists on the island like a magnet attracting metal objects. If he decides to align himself with one of the Parties, the economists will rally around him and I am sure they will win enough seats to be a thorn in the side of whichever of the two major parties win the majority of seats, but not enough to form a Government. To this end , I am calling on Barbados Solutions, UPP and CAP to have discussions on a way forward with Owen Arthur and his team of economists as the overall advisors.

    This ignorance about rising up , striking rubbing shoulders, wuking up and doing bad as an alternative to budgetary proposals must stop.

    Reply
  21. Milli Watt June 24, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    labour just don’t have the staying power to effect change………seriously what these two ever fight for let me see oh yes the means to entrench self at the disadvantage of workers. Take Toni Moore for instance contracting economy, falling membership’ reduced income and what solution does she have ah yes send home workers at the BWU real novel and talking bout RISE UP! very long wufless stupse

    Reply
  22. joan Worrell June 24, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    This is a follow up to my 11.19 post. The three seats third Parties can win at the next elections are Carrington’s, Prescod’s and Blackett’s . I would run Lynette in Prescod’s and Granville Phillips in Carrington’s. I not familiar with CAP’s line up but whoever is the best qualified can take but the person is sure to brush aside both Blackett and Holder. Add the three of those seats to Owen’s and you have four powerful power-brokers in the next coalition Government. Yes, there are other marginal seats held by current MP’s which don’t come to mind. Owen’s influence will carry them. Again I am asking the third Parties to come
    together for the betterment of Barbados. Forget who will be a Minister and who will be getting sweets when the Government is formed. Concentrate right now on breaking the back of the two major Parties dominating Barbados politics ad infinitum.

    Reply
  23. Carson C Cadogan June 24, 2017 at 4:10 pm

    I am made to understand that more workers are to go home from the Barbados Workers Union.

    Reply
  24. fedup June 24, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    Strike nuh! Wuh wunna waiting for? I retired and selfish.

    Reply
  25. jrsmith June 24, 2017 at 6:05 pm

    Bajans need to focus on finding a way to control the crooked politicians, before the next election or else we have had it…….

    Reply
  26. Big Man June 24, 2017 at 7:01 pm

    The BWU send home a Good man that was really working on behalf of the workers and keep the Boss woman family who is a Union Joker.

    Reply
  27. Ras June 24, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    The boss woman family is not only a joker Um is a Management Pimp also and a sell out, never win a case for the workers

    Reply
  28. joan Worrell June 24, 2017 at 9:23 pm

    When is the date for the next strike

    Reply
  29. joan Worrell June 24, 2017 at 10:41 pm

    I saw my boy Trotty on tv tonight attending the meeting yesterday at Government Headquarters. I wonder if Toni was happy having him present. lol. The N.U.P.W should have called on Dennis Clarke to assist them. May God Help the two unions when these old stalwarts fully retire. All this young group know is strike , strike ,strike, march, sick-out, rub shoulders and negotiate after.

    Reply
  30. Mark Adamson June 25, 2017 at 7:38 am

    The below post is a copy of a contribution that was both done by and posted by me last night under a thread led by attorney-at-law, Douglas Trotman, on Facebook. The original post is of great relevance to the above Barbados Today news story and demonstrates why Barbadians of all classes and statuses must liberate themselves from trade unions and trade unionism and become PARTNERS/PART-OWNERS of the business enterprises in which they function. Such a cause must be seen by every worker as one of the greatest and most significant causes to be pursued and attained in this 21st Century Barbados.

    ———————————————————————————————————-

    Douglas Trotman, the PDC is wholly against trade unions and trade unionism in Barbados. As a matter of truth, trade unions have long outlived their usefulness, are irrelevant to the kind of national development of Barbados that is needed to be pursued by Barbadians at this stage, and are direly needed to be pushed right back into a state of non-existence. Trade unions are extremely backward, parasitical and exploitative of the very workers they claim to represent.The workers who are members of these trade unions are not even owners of them. The leaders of trade unions, in turn, are politically exploiting and misrepresenting of the vast majority of the members of these same trade unions – especially any workers’ fears of losing their jobs, fears of having gains eroded, etc, as a means of their (these leaders) unnecessarily controlling and abusing them. Trade unionism is a set of very backward political ideologies, philosophies, and psychologies. Thus, trade unions promulgate the abject and arrant ignorance that the lot of the majority of Barbadians is to become or remain workers in this country, and extol such backward divisions as capital and labour. Being a worker is a very demeaning and dehumanizing status. WORK is demeaning, dehumanizing and exploitative. Workers in Barbados must smash to smithereens these disgusting and abhorrent trade unions (trade associations too) and trade union consciousness that are helping to seriously restrict and curtail their further progress and development in Barbados and, by extension, Barbados’ further progress and development. Workers must evolve into PARTOWNERS of the business enterprises in which they operate. Such PARTNERSHIP ENTERPRISES must be founded on the intellectual, psychological, social, political, managerial, academic, technical, technological, professional, commercial and other skills and services they each OWN and that are – in whatever ways – combined with one another’s skills and services of such taxonomies to give efficacy to the functioning of any business enterprises. It is upon such a basis that such PARTNERSHIP ENTERPRISES must be founded – and not on any land, building or money considerations of a few. Workers having already been or still are really COMMERCIAL WORKERS in companies, statutory corporations, central government, etc, must greater actualize into OWNERS of CAPITAL, ENTREPRENEURS, INVESTORS, MARKETERS, FINANCIERS, etc, in their commercial and other relevant roles, via the establishment of such PARTNERSHIPS. PARTNERS must be the SOLE OWNERS of these PARTNERSHIP ENTERPRISES – NOBODY ELSE. Thus, persons carrying the statuses of workers must evolve into the statuses of PARTNERS in PARTNERSHIP enterprises – and so must those who would be seen as former owners/managers/supervisors – and must do so whether those PARTNERSHIPS will be operating in the private sector or public sector of this country. Also, no foreign enterprise must operate in Barbados without being in alliance with a local PARTNERSHIP. Such PARTNERS have to be entitled to access to and use of all information and information channels that are critical to the proper functioning and directing of such PARTNERSHIP enterprises and their divisions. They must each have a right to have a substantial say in the direction in which such PARTNERSHIPS are heading. Given that PARTNERSHIP ENTERPRISES must be only multi-member corporate business entities possible in a Barbados that is headed by a certain future coalitional regime – and which our party will be part of – and given that the vast majority of national receipts are generated by business enterprises, and spent with other business enterprises – such PARTNERSHIP ENTERPRISES will be seen by the PDC as a means through which a greater distribution of nominal receipts among the various social categories in Barbados is achieved. Workers and the relevant others in Barbados must therefore help create a social organism through which they can help lead the way in achieving the aforementioned higher states of social existence, and wherefore this organism must align itself with any local political organizations that are about the achievement of such higher states of existence.

    Reply

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