McDowall tears into former trade union leader

A top union official has fired a scathing counterpunch at a former labour leader who questioned the alliance between the trade union movement and the private sector in the fight against the controversial National Social Responsibility Levy (NSRL).

President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall held nothing back as he described the retired trade unionist, who spoke to Barbados TODAY on Wednesday on condition of anonymity, as a coward spewing out “irrelevant rubbish”.

The retired labour leader had contended that businesses were now merely seeking comfort within the trade union movement because the NSRL and other taxes that form part of Government’s austerity Budget were affecting their bottom line.

He argued that unlike the 1991 economic crisis when public officers bore the brunt of the then Erskine Sandiford (now Sir Lloyd) administration’s fiscal policies resulting in 5,000 being sent home, the recent measures had left no sector untouched.

The veteran former labour advocate had also charged that unlike the current scenario, back in 1991 the business sector did not find it convenient to show solidarity with those who were agitating for an ease to then fiscal belt tightening.

“I’m at a loss as to the marriage, because in ‘91 they didn’t want no marriage. But now in 2017, they want a marriage,” he said.

However Thursday morning McDowall rubbished the argument that the business community and the labour movement ought not get together to tackle the taxes.

The NUPW leader told Barbados TODAY the comparison with the industrial unrest of 1991 had no bearing on current circumstances since back then the unions had a different objective.

“There was a march in 1991 and people would have done the march in a style that they preferred back then because they wanted to achieve a particular objective. We came together on this occasion because we realized that we were asking for similar things. If anything, it shows that we can come together as a body for the betterment of our country. So all this talk about what happened in 1991 is really irrelevant rubbish,” McDowall stressed.

In any event, he explained, there was nothing preventing the two sides from coming together if they had a common agenda, as was the case on this occasion.

“I don’t understand what the worry is about when it comes to the relationship between the unions and the private sector. We came together for a common reason because we, through the Social Partnership, asked the Government to engage us in dialogue so that we could resolve concerns that we had with the economic situation facing the country. The Government refused to meet with us, therefore we came together to send the Government a strong statement that they must be willing to engage us in dialogue.

“This is an interest that we both shared and had in common but it does not mean that we have agreed on everything in the past or we are going to agree on everything in the future,” McDowall argued.

The NUPW president also tore into the former trade unionist’s decision to speak anonymously, questioning why he would “cower” beneath the cloak of anonymity to share views on an issue of such national importance.

“I don’t like to comment on statements that were made anonymously because I believe that if you are going to say something you should be man or woman enough to let people know who is saying it,” McDowall said.

6 Responses to McDowall tears into former trade union leader

  1. Francis August 3, 2017 at 11:45 pm

    A whole article based in an anonymous source????
    Seriously Barbados Today?? Such poor journalism.

  2. hcalndre August 4, 2017 at 1:04 am

    I believe that no name ex-trade unionist is nothing but a coward and a yard fowl, BT should not have done the article.

    • Carson C Cadogan August 4, 2017 at 8:00 am

      …..and “”hcalndre”” is your real name!!!!!

  3. jrsmith August 4, 2017 at 4:30 am

    As I always warn the new trade unionist in barbados, they must beware of past union leaders ,people who was part of management , but never in control ,because they were in the pockets of politicians and certain large companies…………….
    …………………………………………….The new trade union leaders
    should not , allow this to put them off ,of keeping away from politicians in barbados ………………How you trust this is comments from a past union leader, this is from government by government……….
    .All the has beens , always make they comment openly………….

  4. Greengiant August 4, 2017 at 6:12 am

    Some of the comments made by the former trade unionist about the private sector not being affected by the austerity measures back in 1991 are very true. The current measures are more evenly spread in that they affect all sectors this time around. The business community didn’t close their stores, to join with those who lost their homes, properties, and only source of household income back in 1991. They didn’t see the need against Royal Shop, or Sandy Lane, but the N S R L has affected their bottom line so they have used the power of the workers to press the government. Yet there was already scheduled dialogue for August.

    While I agree with McDowall that the former unionist should commented openly, they could be several reasons why not. The individual could be in a position of service where he would be in breach, or some other conflict could occur as result of such transparency by the individual.

    No one can however deny that the unions and private sector has common ground now where there was none in 1991. In 1994 the only people affected by the austerity were the public servants, this time it affects both public and private sectors. That’s why the private sector never engaged in the march with the union in 1991. This relationship is indeed unholy, and time will tell. The young trade unionists though they mean well, and wish to represent the workers, will find that history proves there is no benefits for the workers from this recent marriage even if the wedding lasted only a day.

    Time will tell, and the workers will remember this for a long time to come.

  5. Carson C Cadogan August 4, 2017 at 10:35 am

    He cant see the danger in the chickens and the Mongoose holding hands? This dude is not very bright.

    He does not understand his history, if he knows it at all.


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