Unanswered call

Stuart yet to respond to unions' expired ultimatum

An urgent plea was made this afternoon for the Freundel Stuart Government to re-open tripartite discussions with local trade unions and the private sector on the vexed issue of the National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL) and other contentious measures announced by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler in the May 30Budget.

The appeal was made by President of the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA)Charles Herbert, amid an announcement by the island’s four major trade unions – the Barbados Workers’ Union, the National Union of Public Workers, the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union and Barbados Union of Teachers – that they would immediately embark on a  “go slow”, as a first phase of stepped up protest action against Government.

“INDUSTRIAL ACTION has started! Effective immediately there will be a Go Slow within all entities and departments.  Following that, there will be a ramping up of ACTION very soon. We ask that you be ready at a moments notice to UP DE TING!!! PLEASE SHARE!!!,” said the public sector unions in a Whatsapp message broadcast to their members this afternoon.

From left: BWU General Secretary Toni Moore, BSTU President Mary Redman and
NUPW President Akanni McDowall following today’s meeting with the private sector.

Some union members also confirmed to Barbados TODAY that they had been receiving telephone calls informing them to be “ready at a moment’s notice to ‘up de ting,’” in reference to the slogan being used by the movement as a means of signalling stepped up protests.

However, union officials have so far been tightlipped about the developments, even though BWU General Secretary Toni Moore told Barbados TODAY that the unions’ internal machinery was ready to be activated.

“Whilst we are very much still interested in talking, our machinery of action is in place and we are mobilizing towards our plan.  As a trade union movement, we are not going to divulge what that plan is, but we are very clear what our approach is.

“At present, today, still there is the opportunity for dialogue. We would only hope that, if or when there is an overture it would not be at that point [where it is] too late,” she said, while suggesting that next Monday “may be too late”.

Following a 90-minute meeting with the labour representatives, Herbert, who was flanked by the BPSA’s Chief Executive Officer Anne Reid, Executive Director of the Barbados Employers Confederation Tony Walcott and President of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry Eddy Abed, also stressed the need for an immediate Government response to the unions whose 48-hour ultimatum expired yesterday without any answer forthcoming from the Stuart administration.

On Tuesday, a delegation of four union leaders failed in an attempt to get a desired audience with Stuart in Parliament after they were joined by over 400 members in a ‘walk for relief’ from Queen’s Park to Independence Square. They were therefore forced to drop off at reception, their correspondence to Stuart, which detailed their demands on the NSRL, with Stuart subsequently confirming that he was in receipt of their letter to him.

However, in a statement released via the Barbados Government Information Service the following day, the Prime Minister denied reports that he had refused to meet with all four union leaders, while restating his commitment to working with the trade unions, even though the two sides remain at odds over the imposition of the NSRL and other onerous measures announced in the recent Budget.

Today, Herbert stopped short of saying he supported the stepped up action by the trade unions, but said the private sector shared the unions’ concerns as it relates to the $542 million austerity package announced by Sinckler.

“We have joint concerns over the budgetary measures, including the NSRL. We are continuing to explore areas that we can cooperate with each other to encourage dialogue between the Social Partnership and Government. [And] with that, we are very, very concerned that dialogue seems to have broken down and the unions’ [48-hour] deadline was not met and we urge the Government to commence dialogue with the Social Partners as a matter of urgency,” he said.

He said the BPSA had already reached out to the Prime Minister for an urgent meeting of the Social Partnership but “as of right now he has not made himself available or reached out to us for a meeting”.

And with the union already said to be embarking on a go-slow, Herbert warned that the upcoming

and Caribbean Festival of Creative Arts (CARIFESTA) celebrations could be negatively affected.

“Our members are very concerned. We feel that Kadooment, [which this year is] to be followed by CARIFESTA is a very important time of year and we certainly would not like to see any sort of industrial unrest or disruption of a very important economic time for the island.

“We really urge the Prime Minister to start dialogue and to do his best to avert any disruption of this important season,” Herbert stressed.

ryangilkes@barbadostoday.bb.

20 Responses to Unanswered call

  1. Lilian Lloyd
    Lilian Lloyd July 15, 2017 at 2:29 am

    STUART DOLITTLE WILL TELL A LIE AND SAY HE WAITED BUT DID NOT SEE THEM
    UP DE THING

    Reply
  2. Saga Boy July 15, 2017 at 2:47 am

    Such hypocrites. I wonder when the dust settles if they will all still be friends. What will the private sector to to help workers in these hard times? Why does Abeds not allow his workers to be unionized? I hope he is paying more than the minimum wage. No union should be allowed to shut this country down. They do not have the support of the majority.

    Reply
  3. Ricardo Worrell
    Ricardo Worrell July 15, 2017 at 2:49 am

    Most likely fumble busy sleeping or reading his favorite novels.

    Reply
  4. Eureen Gill July 15, 2017 at 2:59 am

    Hear is my two cents worth. I want to give my 100 percent support to these Unions. People out there who got money and don’t have to drive a stroke for it wouldn’t understand but when you’re not working and don’t know where to get the next legal tender dollar from then you will find it difficult to even go to the supermarket. Pay your bills. It’s not that some of the unemployed including me are not looking for work..and mind you it’s not special work even though you have the necessary qualifications..however you just can’t get work to supplement your bills or even to get a proper meal. The jobs we once looked down on and some.of those we critised for doing them are some of the same jobs we the unemployed don’t mind doing these days. For instance. A maid, working as a cleaner at one of these cleaning firms, being a security guard, soil technician working at the Sanitation department as a garbage collector. These are some of the jobs or people doing this kind of work that once before we looked down on as no bodies. These days these are some of the jobs that the brightest of minds don’t mind doing and feel proud of because despite how small the income maybe it’s still a dollar in the pockets. Wait the question maybe asked she’s a maid, he’s a guard., wait them working as a maid, I din know he did working on the Sanitation truck. Now some of us who are not working would see some some of these.workers and asked.them.to help us get a job. No longer in my view can we or are we reading them.down. People it rough rough rough out there. Let’s see what we as a people.or nation do to come together and help each other create that job. Maybe it would help the economy

    Reply
  5. Saga Boy July 15, 2017 at 3:03 am

    If they threaten and attempt to shut down this country I say lock them up. They are a bunch of bullies. When they shut down the country and their membership is reduced he will they survived? Unless Mia increases the annual subvention. So Up de thing and spend time in jail.

    Reply
  6. Saga Boy July 15, 2017 at 3:12 am

    @Eureen. I agree with you. The measures put in place by the government is to reduce the demand for foreign currency. If it now cost significantly more to buy a car then people will not buy as many and hence we will be saving foreign currency. The private sector owes millions of dollars to the government and they form companies outside to Barbados where they collect money and make profits before the goods and services reach Barbados. They have US and other dollars in bank accounts overseas. They are not interested in the workers. This is the time that the unions should be cooperating with the government instead of trying to create industrial unrest. Many of the civil servants don’t have anything to do on a daily basis. Government is providing them with money and the unions want them to engage in an exercise that may force the government to send them home? It does not make sense.

    Reply
  7. Angus Benn
    Angus Benn July 15, 2017 at 3:24 am

    How a union can let ministers take back their ten percent and cannot get a raise of pay for the workers workers of this country. Some thing is wrong. What is the unions agenda. A ONE day strike ain’t mean a thing. The union ain’t serious. You ALL fooling the workers. After a month pass you all NOW wakeup like a vampire. But a vampire does look for blood to suck. The union should be striking the next day after Mr SINCKLER put on that tax on the nations .

    Reply
  8. Sherlock Holmes. July 15, 2017 at 5:58 am

    In as much as i am vehemently opposed to this budget i am very concerned about the lawless stances these unions are taking. I am wondering how will these unions really represent the working class when their prefered government take office, this is a fiasco at it’s best and if the workers fall prey to this sinister plot and literally sell their souls for pottage offered by misguided unions then they can only have themselves to blame when under a new administration the unions become impotent. I was of the opinion that unions were supposed to be impartial thus being faithful and truthful to the genuine causes of the working class,i do not care which party is at the helm unions should never show favoritism. The recent suggestions that the private sector lead by one Herbert is giving support to this type of behavior is down right laughable and to be honest i hope that was some thing that was mooted without credence as it boggles my mind.This is a drama that i will sit back and watch as it unfolds the current administration seems clearly to have lost it’s way no doubt about that but the stances which these unions are taking is agenda based and not about the real causes of the workers. Unionism and political alignment will never work at least not in the favor of the workers this madness has to stop it is an ill wind that will blow away all that is supposed to be good.

    Reply
  9. Elvin Brome
    Elvin Brome July 15, 2017 at 6:09 am

    Nothing new

    Reply
  10. fedup July 15, 2017 at 6:53 am

    The Yankees soon come for Crop over. Beware. This is serious. Barbados cannot afford to have any shutdown next week when the majority of visitors will be arriving.

    Freundel the ball is in your court.

    Reply
  11. joan Worrell July 15, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Uncle Owen has sent the following message to the 4 unions and Auntie Mia

    In the wake of a 48-hour ultimatum issued by the trade unions for Government to grant relief to workers from the NSRL or else, Arthur further warned the BLP that “elections in this country cannot and will not be won by stealth”. Ends quote . Those words are powerful, destructive, lethal etc. etc. Don’t fire all your rockets yet. Keep some for election time.

    Reply
  12. Milli Watt July 15, 2017 at 9:52 am

    Fruns ain’t no favourite of mine but never thought I would see the day a union embrace the political class, never thought I would see the day a union embrace the business class never thought I would see the day the three mentioned thugs join to effect a change in government outside the ballot. You think you can make a society ungovernable and governable at your will stupse…………becareful what you wish for you just might get it.

    Reply
  13. Breadfruit. July 15, 2017 at 10:06 am

    The unions send this message to owen and his followers

    Wait under d tree in the hot boiling sun till we come and talk to yuh.

    Stop firing yuh old beat up rockets in de air. dem aint teking off!

    Reply
  14. Alex Alleyne July 15, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    A show of “legs”. Oooooooh.

    Reply
  15. david gibbs July 15, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    This is such an unnecessary action: Shutting down an entire country because a letter could not be delivered by four persons instead of one person and because government did not accede to their demands to reduce the NSRL. Where is the maturity, the thoughtfulness, the vision in that? It seems like the result of someone’s over active ego. I am praying that cooler heads will prevail. Barbados is not someone’s plaything.

    Reply
  16. Ideliver69 July 15, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    The unions only fighting for the public sector workers. If they get a reduction in their levy or coping subsidy then who ends up making up the difference in government taxes. All that’s left are private sector workers, self employed persons vendors etc.

    So while we all might not like these taxes let’s be careful jumping on board with the unions cause to the detriment of all other workers and us the consumers

    Reply
  17. Bajan boy July 16, 2017 at 12:25 am

    Saga boy and Bozo aka Sherlock Holmes two DLP suck the nipples parasites who got they big new cars and enjoying the last of the fatted calf and are always trying to mislead. The unions will up the ting whether the 2 of wunnah suck he nipples or not..

    Reply
  18. Ideliver69 July 16, 2017 at 12:30 am

    Who will be affected by this planned go slow. Government doesn’t import goods or foodstuff through the ports or stand in line to pay license fees.
    So who really will be affected by this go slow.
    Think carefully about adopting the unions cause

    Reply

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