#BTEditorial – Of politics, trade unions and elections

This past week has been a trying one for the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) to say the very least.

After announcing a two-day national shutdown for which there initially seemed to be widespread internal support, its leadership was forced to sit back and watch helplessly from the sidelines as its own anti-Government plot blew up mercilessly in its face.

Indeed, the first kiss of betrayal came from the Barbados Workers’ Union which had seemingly been walking hand in hand with the NUPW all along, until the actual strike began and its leader could be heard distancing herself and her union from the NUPW’s strike, in much the same way that Judas Iscariot had done to Jesus, according to the New Testament.

In the Biblical story, Judas is known for the kiss and betrayal of Jesus to the Sanhedrin for 30 silver coins. However, in the BWU’s case it was over a so-called “coping subsidy” that the unions had been collectively demanding since last July.

But on Day 1 of the NUPW strike, all the world would be told that the NUPW no longer had any such interest and that its primary focus was on getting back to the bargaining table with Government, after giving way to the NUPW, to discuss its substantive demand for a 15 per cent pay hike for its members.

“The [BWU’s] Executive Council would not wish for our silence to be regarded as being antipathetic or unsympathetic to the cause of the National Union of Public Workers, nor would we want to be aligned to any alternative views or motives that are being brandished within other circles. The BWU agrees with the NUPW’s statement that public servants deserve better. And of course, that ‘better’ continues to shift as the pressure of increased taxes and the cost of living is felt more with each passing month,” BWU General Secretary Toni Moore declared last Thursday.

She explained that the BWU, and the NUPW, which has been demanding a 23 per cent pay hike for its members, had been negotiating separately with the Ministry of the Civil Service, and while the NUPW was given a mandate from its members to give Government a January 15 deadline to conclude the protracted wage talks, the BWU had received no such instructions from its membership.

“Reports are that the NUPW received a mandate from its members on December 27, 2017 to conclude negotiations by January 15, 2018. The BWU has had no such mandate,” Moore stated, while emphasizing the fact that the two unions have been negotiating separately for a revised collective agreement for public servants.

“Since June 23, 2017, the BWU gave way for the Ministry of the Civil Service to negotiate with the NUPW toward having their terms and conditions settled until the Ministry of the Civil Service received a mandate to discuss money. The reasons for this were simple – the BWU has only money and appointments on the table; the NUPW had several other proposals that were up for discussion,” she explained.

Certainly this was not the kind of sisterly support that brother Akanni McDowall was expecting from Ms Moore, least of all in the middle of a national strike.

But it is clear that where our trade unions are concerned there is often much more than the wishes of their membership at play. Indeed, we will be eager to see what will become of the umbrella Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB) and the BWU/NUPW ‘coalition’ after this.

However, we would have thought that since the NUPW is this island’s largest public sector trade union and that it was acting on the command its general membership, that even without the backing of the BWU, CTUSAB or anyone else, it would have been at least able to achieve a partial national shutdown.

So was it? And if not the membership, on whose command was the strike called?

For they, like Mr McDowall, would have to share in this public embarrassment of a strike.

With that said, Government need not celebrate the NUPW’s failure as it awaits its ultimate date with destiny in a couple months time.

We hope that at that appointed hour Messrs Kellman and Carrington of the incumbent Democratic Labour Party will equally celebrate our level of national education.

6 Responses to #BTEditorial – Of politics, trade unions and elections

  1. BIG SKY January 23, 2018 at 11:23 pm

    Mr.Mcdowall do not get discouraged,people just ain’t participated the way you wanted them to, because they eyes are on the bigger prize.That is election mode, and the power now to send home some of the said persons responsible for sending them home.

  2. hcalndre January 24, 2018 at 12:31 am

    It looks like the DLP sees that the end is near so why come to the table to negotiate when they can leave it for the BLP.

  3. Saga Boy January 24, 2018 at 7:54 am

    This is a poor editorial by an uninformed editor. Where did you get the impression in the first instance that there was wide scale support for the sick out? Had you taken note of the poor attendance at the last two meetings called by that union your impression would have been different.

    Your analysis is very simplistic and fails to take several factors into consideration which may have the reason for the poor response. Once the momentum for industrial relations has been lost it is difficult to maintain or continue it. Perhaps you should have taken time to speak to public servants who participated and who did not participate in the two day protest before writing this editorial.

  4. Greengiant January 24, 2018 at 9:20 am

    @Saga Boy: Barbados Today too has their agenda. Note what their focal points are.

    1. Kellman and Carrington, with the election and comparable educated decisions by the voters at the polls.

    2. The future relationship between the unions and CTUSAB.

    Their focus made simple, ” a new (BLP) government and a dismantled union relationship. May God help our workers if these two should come to pass.

  5. Roverp January 24, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    The unions like most bodies in Barbados were infiltrated as part of a strategy of a particular party to put that party’s interest first. This lead to the unions being very aggressive to the BLP when in power and basically lamb like when the DLP in power. That strategy worked for decades. CTUSAB is still a victim to that strategy.

  6. Roverp January 24, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Imagine a government got the benefit of nine years wage freeze and still failed at positively running the economy and the country. Instead of great things happening (with something the BLP has never experienced with most of the major unions being the poppets of the DEMS), this government has taken the country back decades with water woes, sewage woes, transport woes etc.


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