If General Secretary of the Barbados Workers’ Union, Sir Roy Trotman does not want to deal with the Minister of Labour, he should resolve all future industrial relations disputes before they reach that office.
That was the response of the Minister, Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo to Sir Roy’s recent statement that he did not want to deal with her as Minister, a position apparently motivated by her decision to select the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Association as the main Barbados labour representative to the just-ended ILO Assembly in Geneva, instead of the BWU as was traditionally done.
Responding while attending a conference on Small Island Developing States at Hilton Barbados Resort, Byer-Suckoo said: “It probably means that there would be an effort to address all negotiations or to resolve all negotiations before they have to reach me.
“At the end of the day, that is preferable too. If one doesn’t want to deal with the Minister of Labour, then, you know, there are a lot of rounds of negotiations before you actually reach the Minister of Labour. Things happen in-house and when they aren’t resolved in-house, then they go to the Chief Labour Officer, who will meet, not just one meeting, but there are several rounds of meetings at the level of the Chief Labour Officer; and then if that doesn’t work, then the Minister of Labour,” she noted.
“So I suppose,” Byer-Suckoo continued, “if one doesn’t want to have the matter reach the Minister of Labour, then every effort is going to be made to resolve that matter at earlier levels; and I think at the end of the day, that only benefits everybody. It only means less time being taken up with negotiations.”
The minister was also of the view, that the BWU was unlikely to pull out of the social partnership, considering it was something which was pioneered by that trade union under the leadership of Sir Roy.
“The BWU was instrumental in developing the social partnership; they have a strong, if not the strongest voice within the social partnership,” she concluded.
“Sir Roy himself,” the Cabinet minister observed, “is a grandfather, godfather, father of the social partnership movement itself and I really would not want to believe that at the end of the day, representation at Geneva is considered to be so important, that our social partnership and the state of our industrial stability in Barbados, can take precedence … that the Geneva meeting can take precedence over our industrial relations stability in Barbados.”
She felt that “when the dust settles”, everybody would see more clearly what is more important and determine that the social partnership was “indeed” more important. Insisting that her selection of CTUSAB and not the BWU, was never about Sir Roy or his union, the minister said when the BWU was the sole labour representative to the ILO meetings, there were no other unions, but suggested that this had now changed.
“Sir Roy wanted to pass that baton inside the Barbados Workers’ Union in perpetuity and I said it is not a Barbados Workers Union thing; it was initially. There was only a Barbados Workers’ Union when they started going,” she asserted.
Byer-Suckoo assured however, that despite the BWU’s decision to pull out of CTUSAB, she intended to continue engaging the union in the tripartite process. She said she believed the tripartite structure would not break down as long as she was Minister of Labour.
The minister said, though that while she and Sir Roy did not always see eye to eye, she respected all he had done for the labour movement. (EJ)