Tough times for unions, says Redman

President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman has described the environment in which the trade union movement operates as one of “blatant and repeated threats to job security” for the working class.

Redman told the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU) 76th annual delegates conference over the weekend that while workers were being pressured to do more to pull the country out of its current economic slump, they were made to function in an atmosphere of fear for standing up for their rights and supporting their unions.

“Along with the increased expectation placed on them come threats of non-renewal of contracts, outright dismissals – many wrongfully or unfairly done too  – and docking of pay as a result of exercising their rights under ILO conventions 87 and 98, ratified by our Government and reflected in our domestic law,” she said, in reference to the International Labour Organization conventions on  freedom of association and protection of the right to organize, and the collective bargaining convention.

The BSTU leader claimed that never before had the labour movement been made to operate in an environment of such open threats, where attempts at union busting and victimization were rampant.

“That is our present. . . where some of the most highly placed public officers in some ministries act as a law unto themselves, openly disregarding legislation, regulations and established policy put in place to safeguard the interest and well-being, justice and best practice as they relate to protecting the rights and securing protection of employees,” she said, while making reference to a grievance procedure started by the BSTU a year ago, which is still awaiting a hearing.

However, the union leader said despite the grim realities of today, the labour movement could help craft a better future for workers and the country by sticking together and holding on to the principles and examples set by past leaders.

“All trade unions leaders have to remain loyal and faithful to the fundamental principles and commitments which have to be undertaken on behalf of their membership and on the wider society, in pursuit of the goal of true social justice. There can be no compromising of principles or apology for actions taken in honouring those binding obligations to values, to standards, to established best practices in employment and related issues. It is the trade union leaders that must zealously guard them as they cannot be left to chance.

“Further, this is the time for unions to be demonstrating the highest levels of unity within and between themselves. There must not be splits that others can manipulate and benefit from to our disadvantage.

“The BWU has exemplified unwavering commitment to protecting and defending the rights of the worker in this country. Successive leaders have been daring and fearless and led by example. They have never been hesitant to expose or shame and deal with any who would operate in bad faith, and exploit the efforts of the worker,” Redman stated.

One Response to Tough times for unions, says Redman

  1. Alex Mitchell
    Alex Mitchell August 29, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Do not back down


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