Barbados’ umbrella body for trade unions is not backing down from a now contentious decision not to select a Barbados Workers Union representative as the labour movement’s delegate at the upcoming International Labour Organisation annual conference in Geneva.
But the leadership of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados has left the door open for former disgruntled affiliate, the BWU, to rejoin the organisation and help represent the island’s interests at the June meeting.
CTUSAB President, Cedric Murrell, told the media today, however, that he was “disappointed” with the public stance taken by BWU General Secretary Senator Sir Roy Trotman, saying: “Let us understand that no man is an island, and no one of us can stand alone.”
He added: “We regret, we are disappointed that that stance would have been taken. That stance was not discussed with the Congress in the way that if there was a way to bridge any gap it could have been done. That stance would have been taken without, certainly, reference to me.”
Flanked by representatives from all of CTUSAB’s remaining 12 affiliates this morning during a media conference at CTUSAB’s office at Jessamine Cot, Beckles Road, St. Michael, Murrell said following a written invitation from Government, his organisation’s executive board met and democratically chose its General Secretary Dennis de Peiza to be the ILO conference delegate with representatives of the National Union of Public Workers and the BWU to accompany him as advisers.
While the NUPW indicated its President Walter Maloney would be making the trip as part of the Barbados delegation in June, the BWU has not indicated that it will, and the issue became public last Friday when Sir Roy voiced concerns about the way the matter was handled.
Producing several pieces of correspondence from CTUSAB, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Labour, Andrew Cox, and Sir Roy, the president said “the offer to the congress would have been made by letter on April 8 and that offer included (that) in the delegation would be the delegate and the congress was invited to nominate two advisers”.
CTUSAB’s highest decision making body is its executive board made up of its seven executive members and a representative from each of the 12 affiliates. The BWU affiliate representative was not present at the meeting which chose de Peiza and the NUPW and BWU representations to accompany him, but it was pointed out that a BWU official is an executive member.
Nothing to change
Murrell said having followed its constitution and rules in the selection process, CTUSAB had no intention to change its decision despite Sir Roy’s dissatisfaction.
He said if the BWU indicated it would not be accepted the adviser role the congress would have to chose a replacement.
“The congress is firm in its position that the decisions of the executive board are binding and let me say that those decisions and this congress operates on a constitution which would have been first passed in 1995, amended in 2003, and still is as it was in 2003,” he said.
“Let me also reiterate that the decision making of this organisation falls fully and squarely within the four walls of democratic principles, where members are notified in advance of what the issues are, members are invited, members come, as chair I try as much as I can to give vent, so that each member can express his view, and at the end of it on that matter we took a vote by show of hands.
“I want to say that it is regretful that that decision arrived at was not agreed with subsequently by all of our affiliates and in particular the BWU. Let me express on behalf of the affiliates here our regret at the position taken by the BWU, a union [that] would have been at the founding of this congress, a union [that] would have been at the very centre of the matters that this congress has dealt with,” he added.
Murrell said CTUSAB’s door was not closed to Sir Roy and the BWU but that they and other affiliates would have to abide by the rules.
“This congress is not in any competition with any of its affiliates,” he added. “This congress carries out the wishes and the dictates of its membership, freely arrived at, democratically arrived at and dare I say the desire for all to respect the decisions of this organisation,” he stated.
The trade union leader also said he still considered the BWU an ally, which could expect CTUSAB’s support when required.
“Of course, we are all in the business of representing workers and if at any point in time any brother or sister is disaffected it pains us… As far as we are concerned the BWU is as much an ally as there were before and we hope that that alliance will be fully smoothed over in very short order,” he said.
“So let it go out to the public of Barbados that the other affiliates of the congress and certainly the congress of itself have no desire to see anything other than the BWU being able to vigorously and properly represent its members and wherever and if ever this Congress and its affiliates can give support so we will.” (SC)