Union’s call for two-day protest a failure

It’s back to the drawing board for top officials of the island’s largest public sector trade union, the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), after its announced two-day national shutdown, aimed at getting Government to accede to its pay demands, fizzled.

From all reports, Government services continued to operate normally, despite the NUPW’s call for “two days of protest and resistance”, with its membership all but failing to answer the protest call.

Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who has responsibility for the civil service, is yet to comment on the situation.

However, after warning the union earlier this week that this was not the time for any “selfish action” because the country could not afford a salary increase for public workers due to the challenging economic situation, Minister of Housing Denis Kellman today praised the island’s civil servants, saying their response to the NUPW’s call was a clear indication that Government’s investment in education had not been wasted.

“Civil servants would have benefited from free secondary school education, they would have benefited from the technology, they are quite aware of what is going on in the world,” Kellman said this afternoon.

He also contended that having received an offer for a $49 million lump sum as a coping mechanism, public servants would have been surprised by their union’s call for industrial action.

“Something seems wrong with the communication between the union and the workers. The question must be asked, if the union was depriving them of what the Government had offered,” the minister stressed.

When Barbados TODAY took to the streets this morning to assess the effect of the strike, it appeared to be business as usual at the Bridgetown Port where Immigration and Customs had been functioning normally.

In fact, one customs officer declared: “What we gine strike for? If the Government brek, how we gine get paid?”

A stone’s throw away, container trucks were seen flowing in and out through the north gate, with a customs official telling Barbados TODAY it was business as usual.

This was backed up by a trucker who said nothing had changed either yesterday and today, and that operations were normal.

Over at the main gate of the port, it was a hive of activity as hundreds of tourists who came here on three cruise liners, flooded the streets leading to The City.

At the Treasury building in the heart of Bridgetown, workers employed by the Barbados Revenue Authority occupied the facility, which houses the Treasury Department.

However, no one was on the first floor today, and it was not immediately clear if this had anything to do with the strike call or the separate issue related to the environmental problems at the Treasury Department.

On the ground floor, there were only two cashiers at their posts today.

Barbados TODAY also visited the Wharf Road headquarters of the Immigration Department where a security guard said the officers were on duty, but not in full force.

Workers there, who are protesting the environmental conditions at Careenage House, were due to begin working half day while they wait to be relocated to new offices at the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc car park.

At the 600-strong National Conservation Commission, Acting General Manager Michael Thompson told Barbados TODAY there were no reports of absentees, and as was the case yesterday, operations were running smoothly.

Meantime, there were no visible signs of a strike or go-slow at Grantley Adams International Airport late this morning, with one airport security official expressing surprise that there was industrial action in the first place.

Employees of the state-owned Transport Board were not part of the strike because they are represented by the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU), whose General Secretary Toni Moore said yesterday that while the BWU supported the NUPW’s cause for a pay hike, her union did not have a mandate from its membership to take industrial action.

Meanwhile, former senior trade unionist Robert Bobby Morris today suggested that the leadership of the NUPW needed to consider other options, particularly in light of the tough economic situation facing Government.

Morris, a former deputy general secretary of the BWU, advised all trade unions to return to the drawing board and review their traditional fight for pay rises, given that Government was experiencing hard times.

“All the Caribbean countries are going through the same thing, especially the public sector trade unions. All of them are finding that governments are finding it difficult to meet that old standard. So perhaps we have to go back to the drawing board,” he recommended.

Morris also suggested that trade union leaders may need to negotiate with their own members who demand that industrial action be taken to press governments to meet pay demands they simply could not afford, saying there was a need for the leaders to explain the bigger picture to their members, and the implications of industrial action.

When the NUPW last met with the Ministry of the Civil Service just over a month ago, an offer of a $49 million lump sum coping subsidy was put on the table. The union roundly rejected the offer, and instead demanded a $60 million lump sum, which would allow for an across-the-board $2,500 payment to help cope with the rising cost of living.

The NUPW is currently demanding both the coping subsidy and a 23 per cent pay rise from Government, which has not moved from its offer of zero per cent.

In light of the poor response to its call-out order, the union is expected to regroup and determine its next move.

24 Responses to Strikeout

  1. Jack Ryan
    Jack Ryan January 19, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    Ppl might as well stop paying union dues if they are so afraid to strike. Or maybe they don’t need an increase as much as they are saying

  2. Almar H Cave
    Almar H Cave January 20, 2018 at 12:25 am

    I think this says alot. Could it be the end of the unions? The unions fight for the worker. The union makes sure that the average worker is not taken advantage of. I think it’s an injustice the workers did to their own union. Or just maybe the public workers don’t need a raise of pay and everything is ok. Just maybe things are not hard on them. Hmmmmm…. I am wondering if the public should really stop paying union dues. Cause you, the public,have disrespected your own union. You cry the government is disrespectful but watch this, you have turned against your own.

  3. Kevin January 20, 2018 at 12:27 am

    He should have took the 49million coping subsidy. Better than $0

  4. Saga Boy January 20, 2018 at 12:33 am

    Jack Ryan explain to me how is a gov that is broke going to pay unreasonable increases. You are either one that is politically motivated or one who did not go far in school or if you did your mother wasted bus fare and lunch money on you. Are you aware that the unions are losing members because they are becoming irrelevant? If you had a company that was broke how would you respond to an unreasonable union that was demanding from you money you did not have, thereby threatening the continuation of your business? Employees are not afraid to strike. They have reasoned that it does not make sense. When they stay home they are not going to be paid. Most workers live from pay cheque to pay cheque. They can’t afford to lose $200 to $300 by participating in a 2 -3 day strike. The unions are broke and can’t afford to pay the same workers because their strike funds are empty. If the average worker misses a month of paying bills they are in danger of their utilities being cut off, their car being repossessed and their landlord or bank evicting them. And while all this is happening Toni Moore and Roslyn Smith and Akani and Sir Roy driving about in their luxury air conditioned duty free cars ( BMWs, Mercedees, Audis). They are using workers to live the same lifestyle are those they criticise (politicians and businessmen). What is the union leadership sacrificing? Wake up and make this country what it should be.

  5. Saga Boy January 20, 2018 at 12:55 am

    Almar Cave unions are only interested in themselves. Who is the average worker in Barbados? The average worker are those who work for minimum wages. Those who work in the retail outlets, labourers, construction workers, artisans, maids, domestic workers, those that work caring for the elderly. Are they represented by unions? Do they fight for these workers? Like unions all over the world unions fight for workers who are better paid like employees in Central Government and corporations like Transport Board, Port Workers, CBC and BWA. Who else in Barbados do they fight for? The BWU no longer have strong private sector members. I predict that union membership will continue to decrease because the unions have failed to reinvent themselves. They are nothing but bullies who are fighting to maintain the same lifestyle as those they criticise. They fly first class and drive luxury vehicles and strikes never impact their salaries. Ask them what they have given up for the workers.

  6. Beverley Headley
    Beverley Headley January 20, 2018 at 2:25 am

    The workers in Bdos need to stop paying union dues (kill the unions), turn up at the polls in their numbers with their household members eligible to vote, vote out this current DLP administration (every last one) and keep it pushing. The unions and the present government are a blasted waste of time and taxpayers money!

  7. Sheldine Dyall
    Sheldine Dyall January 20, 2018 at 5:13 am

    I admire you a lot but a salary increased isn’t real.
    Let the pencil work .

  8. sticks and stones January 20, 2018 at 6:53 am

    49 million and the Union say No go figure

  9. Pat Codrington
    Pat Codrington January 20, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Those union leaders should feel embarrassed,their actions blew up in their faces.

  10. andy g January 20, 2018 at 8:17 am

    Is MR.Akanni going to resign.i said it before and I will say it again.He is not smart,I see him as an upstart trying to force his way.Now you know the people He is representing are not behind him like he said they were, which means he LIED.When caught with a lie credibility is loss.
    Poor mary, again wanted to be heard failed to realize the situation didn’t merit a strike and jump in with support. Too loosers with no credibility

  11. Cheryl Barrow
    Cheryl Barrow January 20, 2018 at 8:24 am

    every time d unions trying to fight for money for the workers people gine lost jobs this and that gine happen the government in got money but still them get back them eight percent and we can’t get a cent stupes

    • andy g January 20, 2018 at 8:36 am

      that is when he should had called the strike, force the gov hands then .take back you ten % and give us an increase or forget about your ten and lets talk

  12. TOMMY A January 20, 2018 at 8:25 am

    Tell us what your next move is boss,think about us ,not yourself tring to stamp your authority.Bossman, eat your pride talk and listen to us or resign

  13. andy g January 20, 2018 at 8:27 am

    CORRECTION. SHOULD BE two loosers

  14. Ziggy Blessed
    Ziggy Blessed January 20, 2018 at 9:17 am

    Cow boy unions….The word STRIKE like it tattooed to his Tounge…..Looka life….The BWU feel the same way as the public servants…….

  15. Sherlock Holmes. January 20, 2018 at 10:11 am

    The NUPW head clown is self destructing, the chucky schumer of Barbados. I have said time and time again this boy is too immature for this post.

  16. Alex Alleyne January 20, 2018 at 10:26 am

    Someone go massage the guy EGO.

  17. Adrian Hinds January 20, 2018 at 11:27 am

    It should not be the end of the Unions. It should be the end of the Union leadership. This Akani fella is clearly playing partisan politics when his focus should be the interest of the unions membership. Rather than securing a raise of pay he is running the risk of people losing their jobs.

  18. Carson C. Cadogan January 20, 2018 at 11:57 am

    They rejected a $49million offer from Govt. in exchange for nothing.

    That shows how little sense they have.

  19. Mack January 20, 2018 at 12:12 pm

    This little Hot head boy certainly don’t know what he is doing.

    I guess his followers now realized this.

    He is too trigger happy. I am so glad he is not a solder or a policeman.

    • Sherlock Holmes. January 20, 2018 at 12:34 pm

      He a policeman? He could not fit the bill the police force is not a circus.

  20. Corey Broom January 20, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    The people have become come numb to bad treatment and insults. They are not longer outraged when blatantly treated badly… Slave mentality… I am sad from my people.

  21. Belfast January 20, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    When the UN was voting on the Jerusalem resolution, President Trump instructed his watchdogs at the UN Headquarters to “take names”.
    Perhaps many public employees did not heed their union’s order to stay off the job, as they feared that their names, too, will be taken, like the teachers last year.


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