‘Up de ting’

UNIONS CALL ON PRIME MINISTER FOR URGENT TAX RELIEF

A cloud of uncertainty and industrial relations turmoil is hanging over the country, which is facing the possibility of major disruptions in the heat of the Crop Over season.

The island’s leading trade unions – the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) today gave Prime Minister Freundel Stuart 48 hours to respond positively to their demands for a reprieve from the austerity measures announced in the May 30 Budget, or face a possible national shutdown.

The threat came after the leaders of the four unions had earlier aborted an attempt to hand-deliver their request in writing to the Prime Minister.

“We will give the Government 48 hours to respond to the request that we made and if we don’t have a favourable response we will do what we have to do as a trade union movement,” NUPW President Akanni McDowall told Barbados TODAY after addressing a gathering of members of the unions at Independence Square.

The island’s leading trade unions today gave Prime Minister Freundel Stuart 48 hours to respond positively to their demands.
Several union members turned out today in support of their leaders.
The signs say it all. Barbadians are demanding tax relief.

Earlier, an estimated 400 shop stewards and other members joined McDowall, BSTU President Mary Redman, BUT President Pedro Shepherd and BWU General Secretary Toni Moore in a walk from Queen’s Park, The City, to Independent Square.

From there the four leaders made the trek to Parliament, where they expected to present Stuart, along with Opposition Leader Mia Mottley and Independent Members of Parliament Owen Arthur and Dr Maria Agard, with copies of the letter containing their demands.

The march was forced to proceed more slowly than initially planned because Redman tore several ligaments when she twisted her ankle at Queen’s Park.

The drama at parliament square heightened after Stuart initially refused to meet with all four trade union leaders, advising them through a police officer that he was prepared to meet just one, McDowall said, describing the Prime Minister’s action as an act of disrespect.

“We tried to deliver the letter to the Prime Minister first as a sign of respect.  He sent an officer to us saying that he would allow the letter to be delivered but only by one leader. All of us said no. We were going to stay together. It is either that the Prime Minister accept that all four leaders would have to deliver the letter or we would just leave the letter with the reception,” he reported.

Having decided to move on, the four met with Mottley and were on their way out when the officer returned to advise that the Prime Minister was prepared to meet them all.

However, McDowall said by then they “could not meet with the Prime Minister because we definitely could not leave our members there [Independence Square].

“So, we left his letter along with those of the two Independent MPs [who were absent from Parliament] at reception,” he explained.

Despite shouts from the members gathered at Independence Square for their labour representatives to “up the thing” – a call for tougher action, the BWU’s Toni Moore refused to be drawn into revealing details of the unions’ next move, telling Barbados TODAY the executives of the four unions had been discussing a number of possible scenarios and she “would not want to speak out of turn.

“I think that what happens now is, as we agreed before, that we would regroup immediately after what took place because we could not anticipate the response – what exactly the response would have been,” Moore said.

“We also would not want to be previous because we see it as very necessary for us to allow that 48 hours to really have meaning and we are still  . . . hopeful that there will be a favourable response, that we really would not have to ‘up de ting’ as is being called for,” Moore added.

The unions had previously demanded that Government rescinds the steep increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL), which climbed from two per cent to ten per cent as of July 1, or give workers a coping subsidy.

However, at a meeting with shop stewards last week, they backed down somewhat, stating they were prepared to live with the NSRL at five per cent.

This prompted some to accuse the trade unions of “selling out”, a charge Moore today rejected as unfounded.

She was adamant the unions were “really committed to positive responses in the interest of Barbadians . . . who [are] suffering . . . cannot endure the taxes, Barbadians who can’t take any more of what is being meted out to them.

“We are hoping that reasonableness [and] caring would prevail, but in the interim we will meet amongst ourselves, amongst our combined executives and so on, we will formulate a plan and we are confident that our shop stewards are with us to execute whatever we feel is the next step,” Moore said.

ryangilkes@barbadotoday.bb

17 Responses to ‘Up de ting’

  1. Saga Boy July 11, 2017 at 11:37 pm

    So if we don’t raise revenue through taxation what is the alternative? Send home workers?

    Reply
    • Gearbox1964 July 12, 2017 at 2:02 pm

      There’s another way to do it…call elections and allow a more competent team to manage the people’s business.

      Reply
  2. Greengiant July 12, 2017 at 12:20 am

    The fact that they are willing to accept a five percent increase shows that they know the revenue is needed. Now my problem is not their protestations, but their lack of alternatives to the increased levies and taxes.

    Only Solutions Barbados has prensented any positive alternatives to the current austerity, the other leading party have also supported austerity as their alternative. So if we are seeking an alternative government with no reprecussions from austerity, then it’s obvious with whom we will have to go.

    Reply
  3. antionette sealy July 12, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Where is the support for upping de ting? Surely not 400 people made up of unionized and non-unionized members

    Reply
  4. Troy July 12, 2017 at 5:57 am

    Boy our PM is a real work of art. The unions will Do what they have to do. It’s high time someone stood up to these dictators

    Reply
  5. Saga Boy July 12, 2017 at 6:19 am

    Toni Moore knows that the unions are broke and she still bluffing saying that the unions will strike for as long as required? What a joke!

    Reply
  6. Freeagent July 12, 2017 at 7:22 am

    Saga Boy you gave the correct solution to the problem. Rescind the further 8% increase in the National Social Responsibility Levy and rescind the appointment of 4,000 public workers so that the government would not have to look for salaries and wages for them. The union leaders may be the first ones who want to go.

    Reply
  7. antionette sealy July 12, 2017 at 7:47 am

    If I were a union leader and I had called out workers on a march, I would check the numbers which turned up and if they were not to my satisfaction, I would call off the march, finding an excuse for so doing. All the chatter about upping de ting can’t mask the disappointment experienced yesterday. You can’t up anything unless you have the support of the public. If you can’t get the support from your own union members, how do you expect to get public sympathy? Shutting down the airport and seaport will hurt the employers more than the Government. Who will pay the private sector workers for the length of time that they are away from work? I know who will not pay the public sector workers.

    Reply
  8. Breadfruit. July 12, 2017 at 9:04 am

    @ Antionette Sealy

    Dis was not a call out of all union members.
    Dis was a small taste, de first slice of de bread.

    DE call to “up de ting” is a call to de union leaders to come out wid de full force.

    Uping de ting don’t have to be a march. It can also be a national or selected sick out and by law de worker still have to be paid.

    Reply
  9. Greengiant July 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

    I’m not one to say what or what not the unions should do, but what I will address here is:

    1. The revenue raised from the levy will pay the same workers.
    2. Why suddenly the reduced levy request after demanding the
    total removal?
    3. I’ve never seen four postal workers delivering one mail. So why
    would four union leaders wish to deliver one letter to the PM?
    4. Why would the teachers unions now be talking about the size
    of their membership, and the damage it will cause with a strike
    now that the children are on vacation?

    The opposition leader met them for fifteen minutes, gave them water and cokes. Now what does that have to do with the levy or the workers getting increases?

    I’ve said before that the public workers union should only be examining how much of the additional taxes they can get for their members in back pay and increases. The BWU should be doing the same for the public workers they represent. They should be negotiating for some sort of social relief for private sector employees at the very bottom of the scale, and others with special needs. Now for certain, walking up and down like the
    ‘Grand old Duke of York and his thousand men’ will not achieve none of the benefits i’ve mentioned. The unions should not be marching now, they should be in dialogue to sort out the needs of the workers. The said members they represent don’t need anymore marching, they need money the same way the country needs the revenue from the taxes. They should be tying the hands of government to a time frame for the latest austerity measures.

    I simply can’t understand how trained and inteligent labour leaders can be so misinformed to the current social environment. Are we as a people too politically blind to see reality?

    Reply
  10. Breadfruit. July 12, 2017 at 10:09 am

    @Gg.
    Are you speaking on behalf of the workers when you said “the said members they represent don’t need anymore marching”?

    The workers are crying to their leaders to “up de ting”
    which is a contradiction to your opinion.

    Reply
  11. Saga Boy July 12, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Akani was very disrespectful to the PM. Someone needs to teach him about protocol. I am sure if there was a disagreement with his immediate boss he would not behave so. This is more political than it is an industrial relations issue. The union cannot afford to strike for more than two days. I predict that they will try a sick out as the next move seeing that only a very small number of persons turned up. The numbers are getting smaller and smaller and this should tell them something. They are a bunch of immature illiterate emotional illogical unintelligent industrial bullies.

    Reply
  12. Saga Boy July 12, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    Akani was very disrespectful to the PM. Someone needs to teach him about protocol. I am sure if there was a disagreement with his immediate boss he would not behave so. This is more political than it is an industrial relations issue. The union cannot afford to strike for more than two days. I predict that they will try a sick out as the next move seeing that only a very small number of persons turned up. The numbers are getting smaller and smaller and this should tell them something. They are a bunch of immature illiterate emotional illogical unintelligent industrial bullies.

    Reply
  13. Lorenzo July 12, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Saga boy ,Antoinette Sealy and Greengiant you three are known Dem yardfowls as Breadfruit told you what took place was not a march ,howeverwhen the real strike is called you will see the real thing,just hold on.the fire ain,t come yet as they said they will up the thing shortly.Stay tuned.

    Reply
  14. antionette sealy July 12, 2017 at 8:52 pm

    Sorry Lorenza for calling the paltry turn out a march. It looked more like a funeral procession.

    Reply
  15. Milli Watt July 12, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    UP DE WHO………..with what. stupse

    Reply
  16. Lorenzo July 12, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Antionette Sealy you are a dishonest dimwit Dem ,you know this was not a march but you call it a funeral procession or what you like when the real thing start I will await your comments as people are struggling to pay bills and survive in this country but clearly not you or any of your family or friends.I hope you can continue to feed at the trough but as you know sweet life don,t last long and time longer than twine,yardfowl.

    Reply

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