Submitted by The Barbados Lobby
After reading the address that was given by the leader of the Barbados Workers Union on the BWU 74th Anniversary on October 5, 2015, I came to the conclusion that the address was void of any connection to the political and economic situation that is currently unfolding in Barbados.
Had that address been delivered 10 years ago when strike activity was not an everyday occurrence, I may not have been in a position to be critical.
Ms. Moore spoke about solidarity and a need for a change in the attitudes of workers. It caused me to wonder if all the recent protests were not proof enough that there was solidarity amongst the workers. I also felt that if she was not happy with the attitudes of some workers, that the attack did not fit the occasion which was celebratory and included all of the workers not only the guilty. She also spoke to crime but did not connect it to the rise in unemployment.
It may have been most fitting if she had spoken about the increasing number of strike action that seems to be headed towards the second watershed in island’s history. She could have also spoken about abandonment or the end of an era and I would have understood the context of her address given the reality of the trade union movement that gave birth to two political parties in Barbados.
The Union has itself to blame for its seemingly diminished role in labour relations in Barbados especially with the present administration. Of the two political parties, it favoured one and alienated the other. History, the great decider, has noted that the BWU has always been on the side of the DLP, the present administration, until recently with one exception. This led everyone to surmise that the Union was in bed with the Government. Not once was it said the other way around that the Government, which is a labour party, was in bed with the Union. This in itself is a contradiction because the Government is supposed to be pro-labour. Not in recent memory has the Union exhibited the same relationship with the Barbados Labour Party.
It is really a strange tale that the favoured and supposedly pro labour party, the Democratic Labour Party has seemingly severed its umbilical cord from its trade union birth. It is now in an antagonizing relationship because that party has sent home more workers in the past few years than known to living memory in Barbados. It withholds national insurance contributions, refuses to pay severance, and has only recently had a functioning tribunal to hear severance grievances. Added to this tale the party has stopped providing free tertiary education to the children of the working class. All these things make one wonder if a change of name is imminent for the present administration. It is clearly not on the side of the working class but catering to its own self-interest. Perhaps there may no longer be any real labour parties in Barbados.
The very thought of the evolution of the BWU to the 74th anniversary should have given the Union leader much more to speak about. If she has forgotten her recent struggle as her address does not mention it, she should have focused on the future. One does not know if she sees the glass as half full or half empty or what is her vision to take the Union over the looming watershed that is on the political and economic landscape. One does not know what solutions she will bring to the table to help transform the Union as it moves into the 21st century to be once again recognized as a player in the game not only with government but the private sector with its increasing foreign ownership and profit driven motives; to again claim a stake for the labour force in Barbados. The only thing that one knows for sure is that the incestuous relationship is over; leaving one to wonder what is next on the Union’s agenda.