It’s selfish!

Kellman tears into union over planned strike action

As an all-out strike looms over the public service, two Cabinet ministers in the Freundel Stuart administration are warning that the already ailing Barbados economy cannot afford such a blow right now.

Last night, President of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) Akanni McDowall announced, following a prayer session at the union’s Dalkeith Road, St Michael headquarters, that “all gloves” were off and that full-blown protests would soon follow over Government’s failure to conclude salary and other pay negotiations with the union.

With general elections due to be held here by the middle of the year, the union had given Government until January 15 to respond to its pay demands, which include a 23 per cent pay hike and a $60 million lump sum payment asof a “coping subsidy” for the workers following recent increases in the cost of living.

However, that deadline passed yesterday without any response from the Democratic Labour Party administration, whose earlier offer of a $49 million lump sum was immediately rejected by the union.

Denis Kellman and Akanni McDowall

Without saying precisely when or what form its action would take, the NUPW is therefore preparing to fully flex its muscles over the issue, with McDowall suggesting that its sister unions would also be involved.

However, speaking to Barbados TODAY outside Parliament this morning, Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman suggested that not only was the timing bad, but that the union and its officials were acting in a selfish manner, given the current economic and social challenges facing the country.

“When one considers the timing of it, it is obvious that they do not care about the tourism season, it is obvious that they do not care about what is going on the south coast [with the sewage overflows] and it is obvious that they are thinking about self and not country,” Kellman said, adding that he could not blame the workers because it was their union’s decision.

The Member of Parliament for St Lucy also cautioned that “it is better to have a sheep’s head a day, than to lose everything”, while explaining that in the face of economic difficulty, Government’s immediate priority was to ensure that workers did not lose their jobs.

“You know sometimes people might make an error by going for a payout because it looks big, but in one year’s time, they suddenly realize the payout is less than their salaries for a year and they could be working for ten or 15 years, so it’s judgmental,” he stressed.

Amid declining foreign reserves which plunged to $550 million last September, as well as over $100 million in foreign debt and interest payments due in the final quarter, Kellman pointed out that while the union’s role was to represent its interests, Government’s responsibility was to take care of the entire country.

“Unlike them, we have to be realistic and we have to be appreciative of the economic situation . . . and if you go back to 2001 you will see that this economic crisis started long before 2008/2009. There was actually a resolution in 2001 dealing with the economic crisis which was brought to Parliament. If some of us want to pretend that we are not aware of what is happening in the country and in the world, I am very sorry,” Kellman added.

His Cabinet colleague Donville Inniss also expressed concern about the ability and capacity of the country to withstand the impact of an all-out strike across the Government sector at this time.

“This economy can well do without any industrial action. We already have the challenges of inadequate levels of productivity in Barbados . . . and in any disruption . . . there are no winners,” said Inniss, who is the minister of Commerce, Industry and Small Business Development.

He said while he heard the cries of workers for a salary increase, they had to consider Government’s ability to pay at the end of the day.

“I hear and I empathize with the perspective of the unions and the workers for salaries increase . . . [ but] there are some things you cannot run away from,” Inniss said, adding that “it must be measured against the ability of the state to pay and the consequences [for] the national economy”.

The Minister of Commerce, who was also speaking outside Parliament, said he was concerned about the impact any strike would have on the business sector, even as he urged all parties to return to the bargaining table in order to quickly resolve the outstanding issues.

22 Responses to It’s selfish!

  1. Jack Ryan
    Jack Ryan January 16, 2018 at 9:39 pm


  2. Nikolai Gibson
    Nikolai Gibson January 16, 2018 at 9:49 pm

    Reinstating the 10 % of ministers salary wasn’t selfish??? Bring on the action big man.

  3. ryan alleyne January 16, 2018 at 9:52 pm

    Don you got yours, we want ours. You took 10% with back pay. No consideration for country. DOUBLE STANDARDS, HYPOCRITES You were not interested in the country when you got your money last year only, Donville. Well the “cabbahs” according to you want their due.

  4. Betty charles January 16, 2018 at 10:03 pm

    The economy was well to give back the ministers their 10% ..we the public want to live well like you Mr Inniss

  5. MARIA Holder January 17, 2018 at 5:24 am

    Bring it on, you two. A hungry man is an angry man!

  6. Roverp January 17, 2018 at 6:10 am

    How can the unions be selfish? They have been more than patient with a LYING INCOMPETENT government. The argument about the world economy is total FOLLY as most countries have recovered from the 2008 – 2009 World Recession except countries like BARBADOS that had really POOR management of its economy by the current government. The idea of OWEN having easy is also a fallacy as his administration went through 2 world recessions.

  7. Roverp January 17, 2018 at 6:16 am

    The idea of OWEN having it easy is also a fallacy as his administration went through 2 world recessions. This current administration is all about BLAMING OTHERS and THINGS and not taking RESPONSIBILITY!!!

  8. Saga Boy January 17, 2018 at 6:55 am

    What will a strike achieve besides hurting all of Barbados. The country has had several downgrades. The IMF is calling for a reduction in the number of public sector employees. The level of productivity is down. Too many employees go to work to get paid and are not interested in being productive or offering quality customer service. The demand for foreign goods remain high hence the pressure on the foreign reserves. The private sector is only interested in buying and selling good and using up foreign currencies without creating much. When the gov gives concessions to hotels that are creating foreign currencies the opposition cries foul. The country cannot afford a strike that will force the govt to lay off staff….but that is what the BLP is hoping for. This is time to work together to build the reserves, increase productivity, increase innovation and jobs and make this country the Caribbean leader it was.

    • hcalndre January 17, 2018 at 8:48 am

      @Saga Boy; do you think Barbados could be the leader of the Caribbean again? those times have passed and finished a long time ago. All the islands are showing Barbados how its done, they don`t need school teachers, police officers or trade men from Barbados anymore, they have their own.

  9. Job January 17, 2018 at 7:16 am

    What other options does the Union have? It is clear that the Govt tactics are to prolong the negotiations indefinitely? There is something call PRINCIPLE that seems to be absent among diehard supporters. Eg. If one wants to receive respect one must give. If one wants people to hold strain then one must do likewise.

  10. Saga Boy January 17, 2018 at 7:53 am

    @Job. If the union was dealing with the private sector there would have been layoffs and redundancies. The employer would negotiate what they can afford. But this is gov and all logic goes through the roof because gov is supposed to get the money because it is gov. The union should be working with gov to increase productivity etc. so force the gov to layoff workers. People will not be able to pay mortgages etc. We are not earning our way in this country and we are not going to built this country if the political tribalism continues.

  11. harry turnover January 17, 2018 at 8:54 am

    Kelli,you mean to tell me that you got the gall to talk about an AILING ECONOMY after TEN YEARS of the DLP saying that HARSH corrective measures have to be taken ,then saying that the measures have been working up to near Budget time when they are not working….then HARSH MEASURES AGAIN ?
    Denis Kellman…..when wunna took back the 10% the DLP had holding for wunna, all was well,…now that Civil Servants want some money you talking bout an AILING ECONOMY ? won’t be surprised that on all yuh platforms later this year that the talk is going to be that the measures taken have been bearing fruit and that ALL is well…yea man wunna have been talking in phases from day one.

  12. Falernum January 17, 2018 at 9:11 am

    I never thought I would ever agree with Kellman, but some of these responses reflect that many Barbadians are not yet aware how serious the economic situation is. The unions have a responsibility to keep the country from going into the sewers. Perhaps we should elect McDowell for president !!

  13. Roverp January 17, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Can Barbados really be hurt more than what this RH (REALLY HORRIBLE) government has HURT this country?

  14. Saga Boy January 17, 2018 at 9:36 am

    hcalndre tell me by example which Caribbean island or islands are doing better than Barbados except St.Kitts and Tdad and why they are doing better. Let me know what the level of unemployment is and crime. …and tell me which of them you rather live in but Barbados.

  15. Alex Alleyne January 17, 2018 at 10:23 am

    If the 2 Minister really cares about Barbados they will give back the raise they gave them selves.
    I will be watching for all the “strike(s) action” after elections cos a change in Leadership and direction of this country must come about. Barbados now on par with LIAT, and WICB/CWI. which equals….. “at the bottom of the pile”.

  16. hcalndre January 17, 2018 at 10:54 am

    @Saga Boy; you are paying taxes on everything that you buy and own, even the very bread you eat and taxes are much higher that they ever were, where is the money going? Solid waste tax, vehicle tax, water tax, road tax, food tax, import and export tax, vat tax went up and everything else, I almost forgot the NSRL. Now they saying that they don`t have any money, they must be dropping it in a crab hole.

  17. Roverp January 17, 2018 at 11:56 am

    Too much PRIDE and not HUMBLE! That is one of the major causes of Barbados’s FALL!!!

  18. Vonda January 17, 2018 at 2:50 pm

    The Government cannot pay the workers an increase but it can increase taxes for the workers to pay. What foolishness these political demons saying. Why they take back their money. I would like the Union to stick to their guns. We the workers are at the bottom of the scale, therefore we need an increase like everyone else. Denise have is business as well , which means he have two jobs. What about the poor Government Workers who have to pay school fees for their etc?

  19. Ossie Moore January 17, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Well all I can sey; is I never get rid o’ me outside toilet so when wonna toilet bowls swelling I gine be at de rum shop enjoying a ESAF white, four square and a Brunswick!

  20. Ossie Moore January 17, 2018 at 3:12 pm

    Bur Rabbit counting but slow and Bur Tar Baby is completely annoyed at the fact that it is putting him to sleep and as Ber Tar Baby shuts his eyes Bur Rabbit double counts on his side o’ de pile.

  21. Nathaniel Samuels January 17, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    You both know of the problems associated with a strike but you did not think to reason what would be the effect of you and your colleagues restoring your 10%. As leaders you have to take the leading role and the Union and its members are only following.


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