NUPW tactics compared to drive-by shooting

The pressure continues to mount on the island’s largest public sector trade union to back off from any further industrial action at this time to try to force the Freundel Stuart administration to meet its demands for a 23 per cent pay hike and a coping subsidy of $60 million.

A two-day strike called by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) last Thursday and Friday, and its promise to continue pressing for an increase, have already been described by Government spokespersons as selfish, nonsense and badly timed.

This morning, one of Barbados’ leading scholars was even more dramatic in his description of the NUPW’s negotiating tactic, comparing it to a drive-by shooting.

“The tactics at this moment are a bit premature and misguided because you [NUPW] don’t have widespread union solidarity . . . and [are] not [considering] the realities of the economy.  So your 23 per cent, for example, or some of the policies associated with your coping mechanism are not on all squares with Government’s counter-suggestions. So, you want to be negotiating and not engaging in a proverbial drive-by shooting . . . because that’s not a negotiation. If you are going to pull those tactics, that’s a drive-by shooting,” Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) Dr Don Marshall told Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of a roundtable discussion to examine the relevance of the work of the late acclaimed regional economist Sir Arthur Lewis to the challenges of Caribbean development.

The SALISES director said he was concerned about the way the NUPW leadership has been handling the salary dispute in terms of safeguarding the future of the trade union as an institution and its understanding of trade union practices.

“As it stands right now, they are in the midst of a negotiation and that negotiation is many-sided, in that it is not simply unions engaged with Government, but the unions among themselves have to settle on an approach and a kind of an estimable percentage point increase, and also modality as to whether or not this would take the form of a wage settlement beginning later this year, or commencing with a one-off payment to be followed in a subsequent period with another kind of payment,” he said.

The NUPW had given Government a January 15 deadline conclude salary negotiations, arguing that it did not want to wait until after the general election to begin talks with a new administration.

Having failed to pressure back to the negotiating table, the union called out its members last Thursday and Friday, in what turned out to be an unsuccessful strike.

Marshall told Barbados TODAY NUPW President Akanni McDowall had got ahead of himself by calling the strike, particularly since he did not have the support of the Barbados Workers’ Union, the Barbados Union of Teachers or the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados.

In addition, the economist said the union’s action “sets up a potential collision or potential conflict of interest arising in the event of a general election and a new Government coming into place . . . how it would treat to any new Government coming into place in relation to the same issues. The fundamentals are not going to change”.

“So if you are insisting on a particular increase now in a circumstance where Government is hard-pressed to meet whatever figure you deem worthy and your unions cannot line up behind that figure as well . . . it seems premature, if not rather haughty, that you would want to exercise such a drastic tactic,” he said.

The prominent academic urged the NUPW to be mindful that its demands must be in accordance with what the economy could afford, or what any new Government would see as reasonable.

Marshall said while the NUPW had a right to call a strike now, its legitimacy would be questionable if it did not pursue similar action against a new administration “because the workers would feel that this was action precipitated on some narrow agenda to pursue regime change”.

However, he said it was a case of overzealousness, and not political motivation, that influenced the NUPW to call out its members.

At the same time, he said Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had created a level of expectation among the unions following a meeting of the Social Partnership last August.

“Objectively, if you think about it, the Prime Minister by indicating to the unions at the time of the last televised Social Partnership arrangement, that he is prepared to engage them and when fuller knowledge of the receipts from the NSRL, he would have set up an agenda of expectations. So realistically, election or no election, a demand for closure on wage negotiations would have been on him and the Government around this time anyway,” Marshall said.

Despite the heavy criticism of the decision to stage a national shutdown last week, the union has made it clear that it “is committed to securing a salary increase for its members, regardless of the party in power, endorsement from other unions or the opinions of social commentators.

“Neither silence, contempt, award or reward will sway us to do otherwise,” it said in a weekend statement.

13 Responses to NUPW tactics compared to drive-by shooting

  1. Saga Boy January 23, 2018 at 11:25 pm

    Barbados is a small place and we know that Akani is often seen in the presence of BLP MOP. Next time I see them together I will take a picture..that is if she does not have her body guards. We know where he takes his orders and why therefore such orders are more political than reasonable and not aimed at striking (no pun intended) a balance between what is good and right for his members and what is good and right for the country.

  2. Committed Bajan January 24, 2018 at 3:04 am

    A drive by shooting is a criminal offence, are you saying that this over zealous union leader committed a crime?

    I have no interest in the NUPW, but to compare the actions of a union to such,

    Barbadians have to ensure that their unionised voices will always be heard in this democratic society even if it is nonsesne as is this case.

    What I would like to know, is how this NUPW head is allowed to hold a public sector job, isn’t that partially biting the hand that feeds you?

  3. Ernesta Catlyn January 24, 2018 at 4:02 am

    He is young and will learn. It is a learning process. It is election year, no need to strike or walk. Be patient as “Job”.

  4. Roverp January 24, 2018 at 6:10 am

    The union has been trying to get back to being a union and not an arm of the DEMS as it has been for many decades. Some DEMS will hate this and hence the above.

  5. Carson C Cadogan January 24, 2018 at 6:40 am


    When will the union allow the workers to access this money???

    Or does the Union see it from the point of view that if they allow the workers to take it , it would scuttle the Barbados Labour Party’s chance of the winning the upcoming elections???

  6. Greengiant January 24, 2018 at 8:20 am

    @Roverp: Maybe the union is too close to the Garrison Savannah, and being affected by activities occurring on Bush Hill road.

    If the NUPW has been trying to get back to being a union after being an arm of the DEMS for decades according to you. It appears then that the only route to becoming a union once again is via the bosom of the BLP.

    All has happened is that the Horatio Cook Auditorium and it’s environs has been redesigned for the purposes of one client after spending years in bed with another. It’s not fair to the workers, they should have accepted the forty nine million so the junior civil servants could get their $ 2,500.00. That would have been a sign of good faith towards their workers. Salary negotiations could have continues, even if they went after the back pay for all civil servants. Instead after all the noises, marches, threats, and promises the workers they claim to represent still has nothing.

    So regardless of what any of you here think, will say or want to say. Those of you who are promoting the two parties who are empty of solutions and will use the failings of the NUPW to aim to boost your parties. The workers have nothing to show for all the attempts by this union. That’s why I have to agree with
    Dr. Marshall, “their constantly random behavior is similar to a drive by shooting”.

  7. Roverp January 24, 2018 at 8:52 am

    Time will tell if Bajans are fooled by the last minute attempt to use all types of means including lying and deception to get them to put back in a government that has seriously FAILED in LEADERSHIP in all areas. Many institutions failed because of the infiltration into management of by a particular party as part of their strategy and hence those institutions failed to carry out their original mandates and hence failed the nation. We have lots of wrong thinking in management because of the selfish agendas that have replaced proper motives and goals of many organizations. According to the late Professor Stan Reid the “the nation lacks management”. We have lots of management that are qualified on paper but lack integrity as well as COMMON SENSE. We also have the use of the church by some as a tool of misdirection and folly. We really need GOD’s WISDOM.

  8. archy perch January 24, 2018 at 9:29 am

    I hear people saying the government has failed and say to myself, do they really believe that? From day one after the DLP won the general elections in 2008, the BLP was at the DLP administration’s jugular. The talk at the time was that the DLP government would calapse, and the bees would take over. Mia bad talked the government on every thing. She bad talked Clico so badly that it was enough to force policy holders to bullrush the outfit for their money back. We all know the outcome. Mia badtalked the Barbados economy and the government so badly, that it scared away most international investors. The crooked BLP was on a relentless campaign to bring down the DLP administration.
    That campaign continues. We shall see the outcome.

  9. Saga Boy January 24, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    Archy perch you are correct. Mia caused the run on CLICO. She got her henchmen and women to talk to various institutions and individuals on the island to encourage them to withdraw funds. I blame her for that collapse. Evil evil evil.

  10. Helicopter(8P) January 24, 2018 at 2:43 pm

    Eba body talking ’bout more money but no body talking ’bout more productivity! This catch sound like a very good “Crop Ova” tune. Does’nt it?

  11. Cabral January 24, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    The strike was rash and premature. Even if they had support form other unions this administration has not had a history of responding progressively to these types of tactics and the union is quite aware of that. Also the union chose a time where their strike would be overshadowed many other pressing national issues such as the sewerage and elections. They need to choose a time when the society can focus on their message. Lastly 23% is a major increase that seems ridiculous considering our credit rating issues and the downgrades. It is well deserved by the civil servants but they would have been better served arguing for 10 or 15. They may have gotten the government and the public to take them more seriously. Better some of 10% than none of 23%.

  12. milli watt January 24, 2018 at 6:26 pm

    Akani got to watch himself with this new form of employee who is for the most part opportunistic. march in the thousands last year get a promise but don’t have the belly now for a fight. This crowd never had it in them since last year. BLP will win later, the last ten years will be written off and the slate wiped clean lololololol. how is that for opportunistic

  13. harry turnover January 24, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Mr.General Secretary wha happened wid ya ? ya very quiet !! looks as though you are not in agreement with what may happened shortly.
    Is it true that at least 2 members of your team are not in agreement either and a ‘ coitus interruptus ‘ scenario in the Political sense may be forthcoming ?
    A disgruntled yard fowl brought it up around a table of dominoes the other evening.Don’t know if to believe him or not,but that in my business … daiz dem business.
    G P I still tuned in,ya in got na business to tell ma ? by now your preparations for the burials of the Politically dead in June should be at the advance stage….hope you are not planning to bury any at sea…that will be more money as digging graves under water in easy..he he he !!


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