Government’s own version of the politics of inclusion, not an attempt to ostracise Senator Sir Roy Trotman, is the main reason why the veteran trade unionist will not be the main labour representative at an upcoming International Labour Organisation conference in Geneva.
Breaking her silence today on the issue which led to Sir Roy’s Barbados Workers Union to withdraw from the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados last week, and prompted a CTUSAB response saying that organisation was simply following its rules after a Government invitation, Minister of Labour Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo said allegations of disrespect leveled at her ministry were misinterpreted.
After decades of the BWU as an organisation, and Sir Roy as the delegate, representing the trade union movement and the annual ILO meeting, Government decided this month that it should include the wider labour movement under the umbrella body CTUSAB.
Byer-Suckoo, who apologised to the BWU General Secretary today for any misunderstanding on the issue, said this was based on a Cabinet decision.
“Every year the Government of Barbados attends the International Labour Conference and is invited to bring an official delegation comprised of two government, one employer and one worker, fully funded by the Government. Delegates may take advisors at their expense,” she explained.
“For decades the BWU was invited to send a delegate, and that delegate for many years was Sir Roy. That invitation was based on the fact that the BWU was the largest trade union on the island, representing a wide cross section of workers.
“However, it is the view of the Government that with the formation of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados as an umbrella organisation, the CTUSAB provides an even wider representation and the invitation to the ILC should be to CTUSAB, of which the BWU was a member,” she added.
The minister said this opinion was “in keeping with the ILO’s definition of a representative body”.
“Until recently, it was a fortuitous coincidence that the BWU’s General Secretary was the President of CTUSAB and the workers VP at the ILO. Therefore, no formal distinction was made, or even necessary then,” she pointed out.
“The Cabinet this month agreed that, starting this year, the invitation to the ILC would go through CTUSAB. The idea was not to exclude the BWU but to include others and thereby achieve the widest representation.
“CTUSAB would then select and recommend the delegate. It is my understanding that that was done by CTUSAB at a meeting of its Executive Board, at which time the BWU was a member of CTUSAB. Representation by the employers is also through its umbrella body the Barbados Employers Confederation,” she noted.
Byer-Suckoo also pointed out that the current Social Partnership protocol and previous ones specifically named CTUSAB “as the representative body for workers and at meetings of the Social Partnership sub committee the workers have been represented by CTUSAB”.
She hoped the current difficulties between the BWU and CTUSAB would be resolved for the benefit of Barbados.
“The Ministry of Labour and the Government rely on the dialogue and collaboration with our stakeholders in the private sector and the trade unions. We will continue to work with CTUSAB and with the BWU. It is my hope that the parties will resolve their issues for a better Barbados for the workers and for us all,” she stated.
Byer-Suckoo also praised Sir Roy and the BWU “for decades of invaluable service to the Government and people of Barbados through advocacy and contribution to legislation, policies, practices and conventions here at home and across the globe”.
“Sir Roy’s contribution to the ILO has been sterling and he has made us particularly proud as he served as the workers VP at the ILO for 19 years, a post he resigned two years ago,” she said. (SC)