Submitted by William Skinner
Refreshingly, the new young leadership of the two major trade unions has made its collective presence felt. This is good because we all know that the old guard had become soft and was not prepared to take on the current administration.
Both the Barbados Labour Party and the Democratic Labour Party have always been well served by our union leadership. The history is there and those who were involved in trade unions going back to the sixties know the script.
I can only hope that these new young and vibrant trade unionists are not in the pockets already of either the Government or Her Majesty’s Opposition. We all know how the political opportunists operate: when in opposition you march with the workers; when in government you simply do not. Bet your bottom dollar that those who are so much in love with the unions today, may not be that romantic when they are calling the shots!
The question as asked by Smokey Burke in one of his popular love songs is :Where do we go from here…he continued : I am not trying to discourage you in any way my dear/but I have had so many broken hearts in my life time before /that I am afraid I can’t take on any more. And finally: Falling in love is not a game at all / You may be out for kicks but I can’t take no licks because my heart is not a ball…”
For the better part of forty years the workers in Barbados have been given the short end of the stick. I am speaking of ALL workers. In terms of the professional bodies, they have not feared too well: nurses, teachers , police, junior doctors have all been fighting uphill battles. We have seen employers bluntly refuse to recognize unions; workers being fired without any compassion. In recent times, the so-called Social Partnership was used as a sophisticated public relations tool . This partnership became so “successful” that, it was impossible to tell the difference between the unionists and the workers. Just like the pigs and the farmers, after a while, on Animal Farm.
So, I score round one for the unions and their forthright stance. Now, I await, with guarded optimism, to see what will the rest of the struggle look like. I refuse to be a pessimist and castigate young leaders for making use of the opportunities to be useful agents of social change. They are to be complimented .I hope they rely on real on independent thinkers and advisers. Our country needs an infusion of young ,fearless leaders at all levels.
This talk about youth leadership is a sorry red herring. Arthur, Mottley, Stuart, Jones, Inniss and many others are very young people and they started their careers no older than the two leaders of the BWU and NUPW. Quite frankly in terms of public involvement, we have always had very young citizens actively involved. So let us get off this silly criticism of McDowall (NUPW) and Moore (BWU). Judge them by their contributions not their birth certificates.
The workers of Barbados must be like Smokey Burke and tell the opportunists that love is not a game at all. Quite frankly all of the political management class should listen to this love ballad.’Cause if they only out for kicks, the workers can’t take no more licks. Their hearts are not balls.