The most powerful trade union in Barbados has pulled out of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations.
The Barbados Workers Union today announced it was giving up membership in CTUSAB with immediate effect, citing a conspiracy against it by that umbrella body and the Ministry of Labour, as one of the reasons for its action.
BWU General Secretary, Sir Roy Trotman said more specifically, his union’s decision to cut ties with CTUSAB “was simply put, in an effort to prevent a deliberate effort to marginalise the Barbados Workers Union and to prevent this trade union … from exercising the voice we have used effectively over more than 70 years to develop the cause of workers in both the public sector and in the private sector”.
He explained that this move meant his organisation would not have a voice at the social partnership.
Sir Roy said it was necessary for the public to be aware of some of the examples of the “marginalisation” to which he referred.
“The BWU is one of the foremost parties which have created and developed a National Initiative for Service Excellence. There are three labour directors in that body; and for just over two years now, CTUSAB has established that none of them speaks for the private sector,” the BWU boss noted as one example.
Another reason he advanced was that in recent months, the Ministry of Tourism had sought to put a tourism recovery programme in place, adding: “Tourism has properly used the social partnership to help what they are doing and so they sent off correspondence to CTUSAB.
“The Barbados Workers Union for years, ever since there was tourism, has … been the voice speaking for tourism, because it’s essentially a private sector exercise. CTUSAB has sought to remove the Barbados Workers Union’s voice, even though that is the only union involved,” complained Sir Roy.
He argued too, that from the early days of agriculture, the BWU had been the voice speaking for labour, beginning with the late union leader and National Hero, Sir Frank Walcott.
He noted that this type of representation continued when former Deputy General Secretary, Robert “Bobby” Morris, now CARICOM ambassador, was allocated to be the voice of the sugar workers.†The union chief reasoned that since Morris’ retirement, he, as general secretary, had written CTUSAB requesting that BWU continue to be the spokesman for sugar.
Sir Roy charged that instead, the umbrella organi√*sation saw it fit to select a public sector school teacher to be the spokesperson.
“And I don’t know the extent to which he would bring knowledge on agriculture, unless he’s talking of somebody playing cricket and the nature of the shots that the person would make,” he asserted.
He put the fourth reason against the background of what he termed were 70 years of the union being the entity which represented the tri-partite delegation attending the ILO meetings.
“And we were doing that because Barbados could only afford one spokesman for the employers and one spokesperson for the workers,” pointed out the BWU leader.
“We continued to represent workers in private sector and the public sector, and I have continued to be the most senior Caribbean representative making a very significant contribution and bringing technical support to the region. That support is continuing.
“But it suits CTUSAB, and now it suits the Ministry of Labour, to join in what I call a conspiracy to remove the possibility of the Barbados Workers Union being the representative, and hence the delegate for Barbados and the workers of Barbados to the International Labour Conference.”
Sir Roy revealed that his union would be seeking to “correct” that by approaching the Credentials Committee of the ILO and “the Congress of the Barbados Workers Union” will ask that global body to look at this matter of representation.
He argued that the BWU had the numbers, the tradition and the culture to be the true representative delegation for both public and private sector workers, while CTUSAB, at most could only speak for about 25,000 employees. (EJ)††††††